After Joe Maddon unexpectedly left the Tampa Bay Rays, the Cubs worked quickly to cut a deal and bring him on. Current skipper Rick Renteria, a baseball lifer in his first-ever major league managing gig, got the shaft, and president Theo Epstein admitted as much in today's press release.
Epstein explained that there wasn't a plan to replace Renteria until Maddon became available. From the statement:
Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.
Last Thursday, we learned that Joe 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. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. 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.
While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.
We offered Rick a choice of other positions with the Cubs, but he is of course free to leave the organization and pursue opportunities elsewhere. Armed with the experience of a successful season and all the qualities that made him our choice a year ago, Rick will no doubt make an excellent major league manager when given his next chance.
Renteria spent one season doing good work with a team still full of young, unsharpened prospects, but when Epstein found someone with a better track record to get things going, he made a decision. It's just business—and unquestionably the right move—but it puts Renteria in a strange position. He could find a new job quickly, though: