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Joe Maddon exercises opt-out clause, no longer the manager of Tampa Bay Rays

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

In an absolute stunner out of nowhere, Joe Maddon, after nine mostly successful seasons, reportedly has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and is no longer the manager of the team, effective immediately.

The Rays issued the following statement via Twitter Friday.

Well, it looks like all that “I want to continue to be a Ray” talk by Maddon a few weeks back should have continued “but only for a little while longer.”

Speculation that Rays’ hold on Maddon was tenuous at best immediately started the moment former Rays executive vice president and general manager Andrew Friedman jumped ship to take over as President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

At the time, Maddon insisted he wouldn’t be joining Friedman in L.A., saying he was pretty content in Tampa. “I’m really embedded here pretty well,” Maddon said, who compiled a highly respectable 754-705 record to go along with some decent postseason runs during his tenure with the Rays. “The roots are pretty strong. We have a great infrastructure here. We have a great operation. We have great people.”

But in retrospect, left the door slightly ajar regarding a possible departure with other comments after Friedman was hired by the Dodgers. “I want to continue to be a Ray, absolutely,” Maddon said at the time. “They have to want me to be a Ray too.”

Between the details inferred from the statement above from Rays owner Stuart Sternberg and Maddon’s cryptic comments, it appears that in Maddon’s eyes, the Rays didn’t want him to be a Ray bad enough.

It’s a shame, in a way. Maddon’s quirkiness seemed to be the perfect fit for the “Little Organization That Could” with the quirky ballpark. It’s almost like the team and the manager were meant for each other. But alas…

With the news that Maddon has left the Rays, a reasonable assumption would be that he’s headed to the Dodgers. But not so fast.

As recently as a few weeks ago, it was believed that current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly’s job was safe. But that was before Maddon became available. Is it possible that Friedman could clean house, get rid of both Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti and replace them with Maddon and a new GM? Stay tuned.

But wait again, there’s this:

Stay tuned, indeed.