The Cubs announced today that Joe Maddon will not return as manager in 2020. He and Cubs president Theo Epstein have agreed to part ways following the conclusion of Maddon’s contract.
Maddon, 65, has managed the Cubs each of the last five seasons, compiling an overall 471-338 record in Chicago. He’s led the team to a winning record in each of those years, including 90+ wins and a postseason berth in four of five seasons. Of course, his crowning achievement is the 2016 season, when he and the Cubs claimed a World Series title for the first time since 1908.
Despite that run of sustained success, it comes as little surprise that Maddon will not return to the Cubs. It seems that the organization has been moving towards this end since last season, with the front office and Maddon agreeing that it’s time for a change. After a languid performance in the 2018 Wild Card Game and a September collapse in 2019, it seems that the magic of 2016 has run out, with Theo Epstein and the front office seemingly drifting out of sync with Maddon’s leadership style.
That’s not to say that Maddon is entirely at fault for the Cubs’ disappointing performance in the last two seasons; rather, it’s merely a reminder that the relationship between a team and its manager can evolve, even during a period of great success. An apparent erosion of the bond between Maddon and the Cubs became apparent when the organization refused to commit to Maddon for the future after last season, leaving him as a lame-duck manager entering 2019.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today speculates that the Padres, Phillies, and Mets could all be potential landing spots for Maddon. Of course, the Padres are the only team in that group that currently has a managerial vacancy, though there has been no shortage of speculation that Gabe Kapler and Mickey Callaway will soon find themselves without a job. Per Jesse Rogers of ESPN, Maddon does intend to continue managing next year, and there should be a number of suitors interested in his services. Kansas City, San Francisco, and now Pittsburgh will also have openings in the dugout.
Maddon is the owner of a sterling track record in his 16-year managerial career, with his teams posting a 1252-1067 record overall. He managed the 2008 Rays team that won the American League pennant and has led his teams to 90 or more wins in nine different seasons. His forward-thinking attitude and ability to manage either a rebuilding team or a contender should make him an attractive candidate for a variety of teams, even in the face of an industry-wide proclivity for younger, cheaper managers.
As for the Cubs, it remains to be seen how they’ll approach their search for the club’s next skipper. The organization could target an experienced manager such as Joe Girardi or Mike Scioscia, or they could turn to lesser-known, inexperienced candidates. Of that latter group, many will mention Mark Loretta, the Cubs’ current bench coach, and beloved franchise icon David Ross. However, those names are all merely speculative, and the team has given no hint as to how they will navigate the hiring process.