Joe Maddon is in the last year of his contract as the Cubs’ manager, and though speculation has run rampant for months that the team could potentially look for a new dugout leader for 2020, Maddon doesn’t sound as if he’s expecting to go anywhere. “I’m operating like we’ll be together for a couple more years, at least. I’m not going to sit and proclaim I’m looking to go elsewhere. That’s not true,” Maddon told ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers and other media members today, adding that he has a “very high” amount of optimism that he’ll return to the job.
Despite rumors of discord between Maddon and the front office last fall, both he and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein have each said they hope to continue the relationship between the skipper and the team. Maddon reiterated these feelings today, while admitting that he made a point of being more open with both the front office and his players this season.
“It’s about interactions,” he said. “It’s about communication. It’s about the ability to work together. That’s what it comes down to….This year I’ve taken it to a different level,” Maddon said. “I want to be somewhere where I want to work, too. Everything about what we do with the Cubs, you can’t beat it. It’s impossible to beat. That’s the allure for me.”
This interpersonal relationship seems to be the key factor, as Maddon noted that an extension “has nothing to do with wins and losses. If that’s the case, I would have signed a contract at the end of last season….You can’t just reduce it to wins and losses. That makes no sense at all.”
Today’s victory over the Reds improved the first-place Cubs’ record to 64-54, and Chicago holds a two-game lead over Milwaukee and a 2.5-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central race. While there’s a long way to go before the Cubs can start printing playoff tickets, the team appears to be on pace for their fifth postseason appearance in as many years since Maddon was hired as manager. His previous four years saw the Cubs win two NL Central crowns and two NL wild card berths, and of course, the Cubs finally ended over a century of frustration by winning the World Series in 2016.