Tampa Bay Rays announce manager Joe Maddon's three-year contract extension

The Rays manager says he's passing on more lucrative options to stay where he's happy.
Manager Joe Maddon says he wanted to get the contract extension completed before it became a potential distraction. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
Manager Joe Maddon says he wanted to get the contract extension completed before it became a potential distraction.JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Published February 15 2012
Updated February 16 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — Joe Maddon could have more elsewhere. More prestige, more resources, definitely more pay, millions more.

But he couldn't necessarily have what he has with the Rays, which is why he signed on for three more years, the extension — at a below-market total of about $6 million — keeping him in their dugout through 2015.

"We're all motivated by different things," Maddon said Wednesday. "My motivation isn't the dollar sign. It never has been, never will be. My motivation is to do something that I love, where I love to do it, with people I enjoy doing it with. That matters.

"It matters that you can show up every day and really like walking in the door, love walking in the door. That matters. And when you have the cooperation, and Andrew (Friedman, executive vice president) used the word 'trust,' at the end of the day, that's what it's all about."

Maddon, 58, ran through a number of reasons for wanting to stick around beyond his current deal that expires after this season — his bosses, the players, the Tampa Bay community — but said it really came down to something incredibly simple:

He likes his gig.

"This is really the only place I wanted to be," Maddon said. "I think this is the most interesting place to be involved in major-league baseball. … There's a lot of freedom to get better, there's a lot of freedom to think. You talk about outside the box — it's just about thinking and trying new ideas and trying new things. And it's about having the people and the resources to make these new things come to fruition, which we have."

When the Rays hired Maddon — who had never managed full-time in the majors — in November 2005, they did so, Friedman said, with the expectation he'd be around a long time. That was reaffirmed after Maddon's first two seasons, when the then-Devil Rays lost a major-league-most 197 games, and has grown on as he has compiled a 495-477 record, won two AL manager of the year awards and led the Rays to the playoffs three times in the past four seasons.

Both talked a lot Wednesday about the synergy within the organization and the unique working relationship they have.

Which is what allows Maddon to respond to Friedman's glowing introduction by saying, "Just as I wrote it." Prompts Friedman to reference Maddon's again darker hair color by cracking, "We'll save the Benjamin Button of major-league managers for another question."

And led to this scene at the Trop Tuesday: Friedman stretched out on the couch in his office while Maddon sat attentively at the table.

"It's almost like a therapy session," Maddon said. "We're just talking about stuff, people are walking by going, 'What's going on in there.' I had my notes from the offseason and I'm just running them by him, we're just bouncing it back and forth. … It's like, if you have an idea and we haven't done it yet, let's talk about it, see if we can make it happen and see if it helps us or not. And that's the beauty of it."

Though there was no deadline on the talks, Maddon acknowledged there was a mutual decision, with spring training opening Monday, to not let the issue impact what they expect to be a season of great promise.

"I did not want to be any kind of a distraction; that would have really bothered me," he said. "We have a chance to really go deep into this season, and I'm really expecting we're going to talk a lot about the World Series again. So for me to be selfish in any way and get in the way of that would have been absolutely wrong."


• Rays president Matt Silverman surprised Maddon by announcing that the team's ownership group was donating $100,000 to his charities, the Thanksmas effort that provides holiday meals to Tampa Bay needy and the Hazleton Integration Project in his Pennsylvania hometown.

• The Rays are scheduled for five Fox national TV games, four on Saturday nights (May 26 at Boston, June 9 at Miami, June 16 vs. Miami, June 30 vs. Detroit), and a Sept. 15 matinee at New York.

Around the majors

BROADCASTER TO RETIRE: Hall of Fame broadcaster Milo Hamilton, 84, will retire as the Astros' radio voice after the season.

Gwynn update: Tony Gwynn's doctors said it appears the Hall of Famer's cancer has not spread but said it could take up to 18 months for him to regain movement in the right side of his face. They removed a facial nerve because it was intertwined with a tumor inside his right cheek.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.