Though Cubs manager Joe Maddon is entering the final season of his contract, the organization will not explore an extension during the offseason to come. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced the news, which Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times was among those to cover (via Twitter).
Maddon, who was hired just after the end of the 2014 season, has already served four of the five years covered by his initial contract. Now 64 years of age, Maddon has been at the helm for a period of remarkable success. The club has a .597 winning percentage and one World Series title in that span.
That success has not come without whispers of some internal tension, though it’s always hard to know how much stock to put in that kind of talk. For his part, Epstein has made clear that he’s not looking to make a change in the managerial role and has continue to praise Maddon. Still, it’s plenty notable that a new deal won’t come until late in the 2019 season (or thereafter), if at all.
Today Epstein emphasized again that this isn’t a final decision, as Wittenmyer also covers (Twitter links). “We’re not running away from Joe in the least,” he said, “but given that we all have things that we’re working on to get more out of this team and to be one game better than we were last year, this is the appropriate move.”
Interestingly, the top Chicago baseball decisionmaker also made clear that this is a “pivotal year” for the organization as a whole, not just Maddon. “It’s time to produce or else there’s a chance for significant change for the group,” he said, seemingly referring to all levels of the organization including the front office. (Of course, Epstein and his key lieutenants are under contract through 2021.) It’s a bit of a harsh assessment given how well things have gone, but it seems that Epstein (and also, perhaps, his own bosses) are looking to keep expectations high entering an interesting offseason.