Cubs make room for Joe Maddon by firing Rick Renteria
The Chicago Cubs paved the way for Joe Maddon by announcing Friday they have fired manager Rick Renteria after only one season.
Renteria, who as recently as three weeks ago was told he was returning for his second season, was offered a variety of positions within the organization but has the freedom to explore opportunities elsewhere.
The Cubs are expected to announce the hiring of Maddon on Monday at a news conference.
“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,” Theo Epstein, Cubs President of Baseball Operations, said in a statement. “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. (General manager) Jed Hoyer 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.”
Renteria, through agent Ken Solomon, declined to comment.
Epstein admitted that Renteria, who led the Cubs to a 73-89 record despite losing two starting pitchers and coping with a young roster, deserved to return.
“Rick’s sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager,” Epstein said. “We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.”
Epstein added later: “Rick will no doubt make an excellent major league manager when given his next chance. … Rick often said he was the beneficiary of the hard work of others who came before him. Now, in the young players he helped, we reap the benefits of his hard work as we move forward. He deserved better and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Epstein stressed the Cubs have stayed loyal to their crusade of achieving sustained success and be transparent with the fans.
“As painful as the last week was at times, we believe we stayed true to these two ideals in handling a sensitive situation,” Epstein said. “To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs.”
Story by Mark Gonzalez, Tribune reporter.