The Chicago Cubs hired Joe Maddon as manager two hours after announcing the firing of Rick Renteria.
Long regarded as one of baseball’s best managers, Maddon opted out of his contract with Tampa Bay after Andrew Friedman left the Rays’ front office to take over the Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball operations on Oct. 14.
Maddon had a 754-705 record in nine seasons in Tampa Bay, leading the club to four playoff appearances, two American League East titles and a five-game loss to Philadelphia in the 2008 World Series. He is a two-time AL Manager of the Year.
Renteria, who had a 73-89 record in his only season as a manager, had two years left on the contract he signed with the Cubs last November.
“Maddon — who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us — had become a free agent,” Cubs President Theo Epstein said in a news release.
“We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: Be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.”
•?The Boston Red Sox declined to exercise their $4 million option on left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who had a 2-4 record and 5.96 ERA this season.
•?The Detroit Tigers exercised a $7 million option for reliever Joakim Soria, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers in July after recording 17 saves.
•?The Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a minor-league contract with left-hander Jeff Francis and claimed outfielder Andy Dirks off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.
•?The Milwaukee Brewers exercised right-hander Yovani Gallardo’s $13 million option for next year and voided Rickie Weeks’ $11.5 million salary for 2015, making the second baseman eligible for free agency.
•?The Tampa Bay Rays exercised a $7.5 million option for switch hitter Ben Zobrist, the two-time All-Star who hit .272 this year with 10 homers and 52 RBI.
•?The Colorado Rockies exercised a $2.25 million option for closer LaTroy Hawkins, who will enter his 21st major-league season in 2015.
•?Pitching coach Mike Maddux and hitting coach Dave Magadan will remain on the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff with new manager Jeff Banister.