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Joe Maddon tried to stay in Tampa Bay

He made the Rays an offer of below market rate.

Brian Blanco

Joe Maddon made an offer to the Rays that would have kept him in Tampa Bay for less money than the Cubs are paying him, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Said Heyman:

Maddon, following what one person described as talks that turned "contentious" after his decision to opt out of his under-market Rays deal, tried to keep things together by making the Rays his own firm proposal. Maddon, ultimately known as a "get-along guy," was looking to extend an olive branch after nine fruitful years in Tampa Bay with his offer, which was turned down by the Rays, according to people familiar with the talks.

Heyman doesn't know the dollar figure of Maddon's proposal, but he has some clues with which which to make an educated guess.

Facts:

  • $5 million a year (plus incentives) is what Joe Maddon signed for, and Heyman says Maddon's offer to the Rays would have paid him less than that.
  • Maddon's previous salary was around $1.8 million per year.
  • In a conference call last Friday, new GM Matt Silverman claimed to have offered Maddon a multi-year extension that not only would have been a raise, but a competitive offer.

Conjecture:

  • Based on what Andrew Friedman was allegedly authorized to increase Joe Maddon's salary to in order to retain him, Jon Heyman believes that the Rays were willing to go into the $3 million a year range.
Conclusion:
  • Joe Maddon's price to stay with the Rays was somewhere between $3 million a year and $5 million a year.
There are two ways to go with this information.

If Matt Silverman made the decision to not meet Joe's proposed salary because he believes that the Rays can replace (or improve) on Maddon, his methods, and everything he brings on the field, in the locker room, and off the field, at a lower price, then that's a daring but justifiable decision.

With a small budget, the Rays cannot overpay anywhere, and I'm happy that Silverman is confident enough to make those tough decisions. I'm excited to see who that replacement is; however, if -- as Heyman's source claims -- the talks became contentious and then fell apart because of a difference of $1 million, then we should be profoundly disappointed in Silverman, Stu Sternberg, and the rest of the Rays top brass.

Activating the opt-out clause was a business decision for Maddon, whether he wanted an extension or wanted to leave. As of Thursday of last week, that could have been either.

Asking for a higher percentage of the money he would be able to get elsewhere was also a business decision, and while a $1 million increase is a lot of money in many contexts, it's not for a major league contract.

If the Rays were unwilling to retain their highly sought-after manager -- one who was a chief component of the front office and locker room team that's been so successful over the past seven years -- because they were unhappy with his decision to make a buck, and unwilling to pay him more than half a win's worth of dollars (assuming that the average win in baseball costs $7 million), then you have every right to be upset as a Rays fan.

In that scenario, that's a small-market team acting cheap, rather than a small-market team acting smart.