Major League Baseball has recently been investigating an interesting case, one that includes the Cubs possibly tampering with a manager who was still technically under contract in the Rays' Joe Maddon.
The Cubs hired Maddon at the beginning of last offseason after he used a special opt-out clause in his deal with Tampa. The opt-out became active when former general manager Andrew Friedman left to become the Dodgers' president of baseball operations.
Maddon was quickly hired by the Cubs after opting-out on October 23 on a five-year, $25 million deal. MLB rules state that a team can not have contract discussions with team personal, whether it would be a player, coach, or front office person, while they are under contract with another team.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday that a verdict on the case should come "fairly quickly," according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The whole situation in Chicago was a bit uneasy. The Cubs had to fire manager Rick Renteria, who signed a three-year deal, after just one year, even though the Cubs showed signs of improvement in wins and competitiveness.
If the Cubs are found guilty, they may have to provide some compensation to the Rays, which may include cash or a player.
I can't make a fair judgement on whether the Cubs truly "tampered" with Maddon, but at the time of his opt-out, just the Twins had a managerial opening. Maddon or his agent Alan Nero likely had some knowledge that the Cubs would show interest in hiring him, but will there be enough evidence to prove that?
Maddon did say publicly that he was happy in his position with the Rays and wanted to stay there longterm. Then how did something just spur within him that he would quickly want to opt-out, especially without someone telling him he should have?
The business side of this deal may not be the cleanest, and when Major League Baseball makes its decision soon, the Cubs may have to pay the price. It definitely looks like they could have tampered, but without concrete evidence, I really don't know either way. All I know, however, is that Maddon is looking to take the Cubs back to the World Series for the first time since 1908.