Joe Maddon to remain manager of Cubs

ByJesse Rogers via ESPN logo
Thursday, October 4, 2018

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon will return for a fifth season despite his team losing the National League Central tiebreaker and NL wild-card games on back-to-back days this week, team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday.

"Joe's status with the team remains unchanged," Epstein said at a news conference. "He's the manager of this team. I'm very happy about that."

Epstein refuted a report that said he and Maddon had "personal friction."

"Not true at all," Epstein stated. "We have a terrific working relationship. We don't agree all the time about baseball issues. That's the way it should be. I don't want a 'yes man' as the manager and I don't want it as a 'yes man' relationship working the other way either."

Maddon, 64, has one year left on a five-year, $25 million deal that he signed before the 2015 season. He's set to make $6 million in 2019. Maddon would love a contract extension but that hasn't been broached yet.

"We just finished playing," Epstein said. "I have not turned to that yet. I haven't talked to Joe about it yet. We have to think about that part of it internally first, then talk to Joe."

Maddon is the only Cubs manager to guide the team to the postseason in four consecutive years, twice making it as a wild card and twice as a division winner.

The Cubs had the best record in the NL for much of the second half of this season but gave way to the Milwaukee Brewers in Game No. 163 of the regular season on Monday. Then they lost the wild-card gameTuesday against the Colorado Rockies, scoring a total of two runs in 22 innings.

Scoring runs was an ongoing issue throughout the second half of the season for the Cubs.

"I enjoy having Joe around personally and I like having him the manager of this club," Epstein stated. "And I really like having the most wins in baseball the last four years. I don't like going home the first day of October. That's not on Joe."

Meanwhile, the team has some decisions to make on key players such as pitchers Cole Hamels and Pedro Strop. Both have team options for $20 million and $6.25 million, respectively. Epstein said he would like them both back.

"Cole was such a breath of fresh air for us," Epstein said. "He made an unbelievable impression. For a guy that's only been here a couple months he's as universally respected as anyone I've ever seen."

Epstein wasn't sure of his budget plans for 2019 but acknowledged the team had spent a lot of money in the recent past, including $126 million on Yu Darvish and $38 million on Tyler Chatwood last winter. Darvish was injured and Chatwood was unproductive.

"I'll be the first to admit the offseason moves we made last year did not lead to immediate productivity on those contracts this year," he said. "It put us in a little bit of a hole with our starting pitching. ... We have to own that. I have to own that."

Most of the Cubs' offseason focus will be on their offense, which came up woefully short down the stretch. They scored a total of three runs in three of their final four games -- all losses. A win in any of them would have had them playing in the divisional series.

"Part of getting better is facing the problem," Epstein said. "And our offense broke somewhere along the lines. Of course there is going to be a thorough examination and of course we're going to spend all our energy in trying to fix it and fixing it."

Epstein confirmed what former MVP Kris Bryant indicated on Tuesday night: Bryant won't need surgery on his left shoulder, which bothered him for most of the season. The Cubs hope rest will do the trick -- for Bryant and the whole team. They're facing their longest offseason since 2014-2015. In the end, the Cubs considered 2018 a very good season but one that didn't last long enough.

"We should all look at the season that way," Epstein proclaimed. "We won 95 games but we didn't accomplish our goals. How can we get better?"

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