Joe Maddon Leaves Tampa Bay Rays


Aug 17, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (70) looks on from the dugout during the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The greatest manager in Tampa Bay Rays history is leaving.

Joe Maddon, the man who turned the floundering Rays from a bottom-dwelling team into a World Series Contender, has exercised an opt out clause in his contract and will not manage the team in 2015.

The news comes just over a week after general manager Andrew Friedman left the team to join the Los Angeles Dodgers front office, although initial reports indicate Maddon won’t be heading to LA.

It also comes on the heels of Maddon and the Rays saying that they were working towards a new deal to keep the 60-year-old in town for the long haul. Maddon will likely be in high demand as he is considered one of the smartest men in baseball.

On the other hand, the managerial opening with Tampa Bay will likely be of high interest to a potential number of candidates.

Maddon was 754-705 in nine seasons as Rays manager.The highlight of his tenure was leading the Rays to the World Series in 2008 where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies. The team won two AL Pennants under Maddon (2008, 2010) and he was also named Manager of the Year twice (2008, 2011). He led the Rays to five 90-win seasons. 2014 was the first losing record for the Rays in seven years as they finished 77-85.

Another factor that could have contributed to Maddon’s decision to leave is the lack of progression of a new stadium. Maddon is a known detractor of Tropicana Field, telling the LA Times recently, “There’s so much to like [about being in Tampa Bay]. There’s only one negative. That’s the ballpark. It’s a big negative. But that’s about it.”

When Friedman announced he was heading to the Dodgers speculation immediately rose that Maddon would follow suit but he said at the time, “I want to continue to be a Ray, absolutely. They have to want me to be a Ray too.”

The Rays will likely begin their search for a new manager immediately although Matthew Silverman cautions it could take a while. The Rays do have one in-house candidate in bench coach Dave Martinez, who has been linked numerous times to manager jobs around the league.