According to Buster Olney over at ESPN, Joe Maddon has opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. He even goes so far as to say the intent is for Joe Maddon to depart the club.
Sources: Manager Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and is leaving the Tampa Bay Rays immediately.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 24, 2014
The immediate assumption here is that Maddon is off to follow Friedman to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maddon already owns a home in Longbeach.
Rays GM Matt Silverman had just finished telling reporters he thought Maddon would stay, per Roger Mooney:
"We've been comfortable with Joe managing in the final year of his contract. It may not be ideal, but it's always a possibility," said Silverman. "...I hope we all wake up one day and you see that Joe's here even longer than he's signed for today."
Silverman was apparently wrong, and it's hard to fault Maddon for wanting to follow Friedman. Who knows what other coaching changes might follow, but the Rays already have two excellent candidates to skipper in Davey Martinez (the bench coach) and Charlie Montoyo (AAA manager).
The move is surprising, and marks the second high profile member of management that was able to depart the Rays without the team receiving any compensation, as Andrew Friedman was operating without any contract at all.
Jim Hickey, please don't go.
UPDATE - 12:45 PM
Stu Sternberg expressed his frustration to Buster Olney regarding the move:
"We tried diligently and aggressively to sign Joe to a third contract extension prior to his decision," Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. "As of yesterday afternoon, Joe enabled himself to explore opportunities throughout Major League Baseball. He will not be managing the Rays in 2015."