Posted on August 11, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
At the start of the season, it looked like 2019 might be the swan song for Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon. He’s not under contract beyond this season and there appeared to be some friction between Maddon and the front office. However, with the Cubs leading the NL Central and in a good position to reach the postseason for the fifth time in five seasons under Maddon, the skipper is now optimistic that this won’t be his last year in Chicago.
“I’m operating like we’ll be together for a couple more years, at least,” Maddon said Sunday “I’m not going to sit and proclaim I’m looking to go elsewhere. That’s not true.”
Based on results, it would seem to be a no-brainer for the Cubs to bring Maddon back as long as he’s willing. Chicago earned a Wild Card spot in 2015 and 2018 and won the NL Central in 2016 and 2017, all under Maddon’s guidance. He also oversaw the Cubs breaking their long World Series drought in 2016. However, Maddon admitted Sunday that results aren’t everything when it comes to whether his tenure with the Cubs will continue beyond this season.
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“I think it has nothing to do with wins and losses,” explains Maddon. “If that’s the case, I would’ve signed the contract at the end of last season, if it came down to wins and losses only. Our success even to this point today — August whatever it is — it’s been pretty good. … To just reduce it to wins and losses, that makes no sense at all.”
Early last winter, Cubs GM Theo Epstein there were no plans to discuss an extension with Maddon until after the end of this season. That indicated that the Cubs were perhaps leaning toward not having Maddon back in 2020. Of course, Epstein’s comments came after the Cubs struggled down the stretch and lost the Wild Card Game. If the Cubs close out 2019 with another division title, Epstein and the club could feel differently about wanting Maddon to stay.
“It’s about where both sides want each other,” said Maddon. “It’s a marriage, in a sense, that the group would want me to be here and I’d want to be here also in return. And that would be the reason why you’d stay. It has to be mutual.”
Maddon also says that he’s changed his managerial style a little after the team’s issues late last season. He’s worked to improve communication with both his players and the front office. Maddon believes there’s been a difference this season, helping to reaffirm that he would like to remain manager of the Cubs beyond this year.
“This year I’ve taken it to a different level,” the manager explained. “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.”
Of course, only time will tell if the Cubs share Maddon’s interest in retaining his services. There’s no reason for Epstein to go back on his word and discuss an extension with Maddon until after the season. But the 65-year-old Maddon said he hopes to manage until the age of 70. Remaining with the Cubs appears to be his preference, but if the club doesn’t feel the same way, Maddon would be a hot commodity on the open market and will surely be managing somewhere in the majors next season.