Posted on October 16, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Angels have interrupted the MLB postseason with what could end up being the top managerial hire of the offseason. The club announced Wednesday that Joe Maddon has been hired as the team’s new skipper. Maddon has been considered the favorite for the job since the Angels parted ways with Brad Ausmus after one season. The Angels will hold a formal press conference next week to announce Maddon signing a three-year deal that’s believed to be worth at least $12 million.
“We are thrilled that Joe is coming back home and bringing an exciting brand of baseball to our fans,” Angels GM Billy Eppler said in a statement. “Every stop he has made throughout his managerial career, he has built a culture that is focused on winning while also allowing his players to thrive. We believe Joe will be a great asset for our club and look forward to him leading the team to another World Series championship.”
Of course, Maddon was available after the Chicago Cubs decided to part ways with him immediately following the end of the regular season. There had been some tension between Maddon and the Cubs going back to late 2018. He wasn’t under contract beyond the 2019 season and it became increasingly likely over the course of the season that he wouldn’t be invited back in 2020. When the Cubs faded down the stretch and missed the playoffs, it sealed Maddon’s fate with the Cubs.
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After getting the boot in Chicago, returning to the Angels appeared to be Maddon’s first choice, much like he was the team’s preferred option. He spent three decades in the organization as a player, coach, and minor league manager between 1975 and 2005. That stint included brief periods as the team’s interim manager and six seasons as bench coach to former Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who retired after the 2018 campaign. Maddon was serving as bench coach when the franchise won its only World Series title in 2002.
“I could not be more excited to come back home and manage this great organization,” says Maddon. “I’d like to thank Arte Moreno, Billy Eppler, and John Carpino for giving me the opportunity to add another chapter to my Angels career. I was lucky enough to be a part of the first Angels team to win a World Series title and I look forward to the opportunity to bring Angel fans their second championship.”
After leaving the Angels to become manager of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006, Maddon has become one of the most successful and respected managers in baseball. During his nine seasons in Tampa, he took the small-market Rays to the postseason four times. That stretch included two AL East titles and the American League pennant in 2008. After moving to the Cubs in 2015, he immediately won National League Manager of the Year honors after taking the Cubs to the NLCS. Maddon then led the Cubs to the World Series championship the following year, breaking their epic drought.
Despite a track record of success, Maddon will have his work cut out for him in his return to the Angels. The Halos have made just one playoff appearance in the last 10 seasons. The club has also endured four straight losing seasons. In addition to those on-field struggles, the organization could be facing punishment following the opioid-related death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs this past season.
On the bright side, the Angels got the guy they wanted and Maddon is heading back to the team where he spent most of his career. As far as marriages between teams and managers are concerned, this is about as good as it gets, giving the Angels reason to be optimistic heading into 2020 and beyond.