Trend Of Shrinking Salaries For Managers A Possible Factor In Maddon's Future With Cubs

Cubs Reds Baseball

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon works in the dugout in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Cubs have fallen out of first place once again in the National League Central, which is doing nothing to lessen the heat under Joe Maddon’s seat. 

He’s taken his team from punch line to champion, with a spot in the postseason each of the last four years, but Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts have left him twisting in the wind in the final season of his five-year contract. The team that seemed like one of baseball’s true powerhouses until last September has misplaced its dominance, going 70-68 since last holding a five-game lead in the Central.

The loss to Milwaukee in a division tie-breaker last October left scars, as did a loss to Colorado in the Wild Card Game. It’s hard to see Maddon managing the Cubs in 2020 if they follow those disappointments with an abbreviated trip to the postseason, and even harder to see it if they miss the playoffs altogether.

But here’s an interesting question: Could the Cubs still change managers even if they win a round or two in October? 

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports Maddon is earning $6 million this season, which matches the salary of Bruce Bochy, who is retiring as the San Francisco Giants’ manager. No other manager earns more than $4 million, which is reportedly Terry Francona’s salary with the Cleveland Indians. 

Joe Torre was earning $7.5 million when the Yankees fired him after the 2007 season but managerial salaries have been falling in the years since. Tony La Russa, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter, Lou Piniella were all highly paid as managers but have retired or been sidelined.

Teams are going with less experienced, less experienced managers with a skill set that includes a broad understanding of analytics. The Red Sox won the 2018 World Series managed by Alex Cora, who reportedly was paid $800,000. Aaron Boone took a three-year, $4-million deal to replace Girardi as the Yankees’ manager. 

Will the Cubs continue to value the managerial position as they have since aggressively grabbing Maddon away from the Tampa Bay Rays? 

Epstein has consistently said he and Maddon are on the same page, adding that the team’s struggles have a lot to do with the roster he’s constructed, but hasn’t done anything to end speculation about Maddon’s future. 

Maddon talked about the situation recently. He told Chicago beat reporters that his level of optimism is “very, very high’’ in regard to eventually working out a deal that keeps him in Chicago. 

Maddon had previously pointed out that he would be a free agent after the season if the Cubs didn’t extend him but now makes it clear he wants a new deal.

"It's about the ability to work together," Maddon said. "For me, too. Understand [that] I want to be somewhere where I want to work, too, and that I enjoy the exchange, which I do. Everything about what we do at the Cubs and where we do it at is — you can't beat it. It's impossible to beat it on every level. So that's the allure for me.”

There is no clear heir apparent to Maddon. He recently opened a restaurant adjacent to Wrigley Field, which would seem to be the act of a manager with shelf life, but the ongoing battle with the Cardinals and Brewers in the Central hangs over Maddon’s future, as does the question of whether any organization still values managers the way most high-revenue teams once did.

Stay tuned.


">

The Cubs have fallen out of first place once again in the National League Central, which is doing nothing to lessen the heat under Joe Maddon’s seat. 

He’s taken his team from punch line to champion, with a spot in the postseason each of the last four years, but Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts have left him twisting in the wind in the final season of his five-year contract. The team that seemed like one of baseball’s true powerhouses until last September has misplaced its dominance, going 70-68 since last holding a five-game lead in the Central.

The loss to Milwaukee in a division tie-breaker last October left scars, as did a loss to Colorado in the Wild Card Game. It’s hard to see Maddon managing the Cubs in 2020 if they follow those disappointments with an abbreviated trip to the postseason, and even harder to see it if they miss the playoffs altogether.

But here’s an interesting question: Could the Cubs still change managers even if they win a round or two in October? 

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports Maddon is earning $6 million this season, which matches the salary of Bruce Bochy, who is retiring as the San Francisco Giants’ manager. No other manager earns more than $4 million, which is reportedly Terry Francona’s salary with the Cleveland Indians. 

Joe Torre was earning $7.5 million when the Yankees fired him after the 2007 season but managerial salaries have been falling in the years since. Tony La Russa, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter, Lou Piniella were all highly paid as managers but have retired or been sidelined.

Teams are going with less experienced, less experienced managers with a skill set that includes a broad understanding of analytics. The Red Sox won the 2018 World Series managed by Alex Cora, who reportedly was paid $800,000. Aaron Boone took a three-year, $4-million deal to replace Girardi as the Yankees’ manager. 

Will the Cubs continue to value the managerial position as they have since aggressively grabbing Maddon away from the Tampa Bay Rays? 

Epstein has consistently said he and Maddon are on the same page, adding that the team’s struggles have a lot to do with the roster he’s constructed, but hasn’t done anything to end speculation about Maddon’s future. 

Maddon talked about the situation recently. He told Chicago beat reporters that his level of optimism is “very, very high’’ in regard to eventually working out a deal that keeps him in Chicago. 

Maddon had previously pointed out that he would be a free agent after the season if the Cubs didn’t extend him but now makes it clear he wants a new deal.

"It's about the ability to work together," Maddon said. "For me, too. Understand [that] I want to be somewhere where I want to work, too, and that I enjoy the exchange, which I do. Everything about what we do at the Cubs and where we do it at is — you can't beat it. It's impossible to beat it on every level. So that's the allure for me.”

There is no clear heir apparent to Maddon. He recently opened a restaurant adjacent to Wrigley Field, which would seem to be the act of a manager with shelf life, but the ongoing battle with the Cardinals and Brewers in the Central hangs over Maddon’s future, as does the question of whether any organization still values managers the way most high-revenue teams once did.

Stay tuned.


Follow me on Twitter.

I’ve been a sports journalist since graduation from North Texas State University in 1978. I’ve worked for MLB.com, the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Dallas Times...