One of the questions that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will be asked this week is the status of Major League Baseball’s investigation of the tampering charges the Rays filed over Joe Maddon opting out of his contract and signing with the Cubs.
According to Nick Cafardo the investigation is ongoing and Major League Baseball has “been gathering information.”
Stu Sternberg, the franchise’s principal owner, and Matt Silverman were not happy in October with the way everything went down when Maddon left the Rays while appearing to have a contract in place with the Cubs. Reports surfaced at the time the Rays would file tampering charges and Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, called the claims “sad and insulting.”
A week after Joe Maddon was introduced as the Cubs manager, the team and Maddon’s agent were notified by Major League Baseball that the league would be investigating the issue.
Joe Maddon exercised a change of control clause in his contract that was negotiated by Matt Silverman, not Andrew Friedman that clearly gave Maddon the right to terminate his contract with Tampa if any changes were made to the front office, not just Friedman leaving the team. Once Friedman took the job in Los Angeles, Maddon had two weeks to exercise the option.
Maddon and Nero attempted to find a common ground with the Rays on a new contract before Maddon tested the market. The two sides were not able to work out a deal and not long after meeting with Epstein and Hoyer in the ‘Cousin Eddie’, Maddon agreed to terms on a five-year, $25 million contract with the Cubs.
It was the Rays contention in early November Maddon only opted out of his contract because he knew what the Cubs were willing to pay him. And if that is what happened it would be considered an infraction of MLB rules that forbid teams to talk to personnel under contract with another team.”
If Major League Baseball were to rule in favor of the Rays, the Cubs would have to compensate Tampa either with a player, draft picks and/or money.
Theo Epstein emphatically denied the charges at the time and welcomed an investigation.
“There was no tampering whatsoever. Joe had an out in his contract. We didn’t engage him in any way until that out was exercised,” Epstein said in November. “I understand they are disappointed. But I don’t appreciate the accusation. I understand where they are coming from, but we welcome an investigation if they feel, if MLB feels there has to be one because we have nothing to hide and that will allow everyone to put this behind them and move on.”
“It’s just wholly inaccurate. There’s nothing to it. If we keep seeing stuff in print, then we’re going to respond at some point. For now, we’ll just take it day-by-day. But there was absolutely no tampering whatsoever.”
“The first thing I did when I got the e-mail, I reached out to Dan Halem – (Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of labor relations) – to confirm that it was a real clause and that he had really exercised it and he had opted out. But I will say that the opt-out clause – it’s right in the contract summary that all teams can get of all managers’ contracts, sitting right there,” Epstein said.
The Cubs had to reportedly “provide phone records or anything MLB requested to prove they did not contact Maddon until he exercised his opt out with the Rays.”
The Cubs asked for and was granted permission by the Rays to interview Dave Martinez for a spot on Maddon’s staff in late November. Even though Martinez decided to step down from his coaching position with the team, Martinez was still under contract and the Cubs had to use the right protocol and follow the rules.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were looking for a quick resolution at the time. What was supposed to take around a month has stretched in to and past the New Year.