Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon "very confident" of contract extension; Andrew Friedman says no to Astros job

Slugger Josh Willingham, who hit 29 homers for the A’s last season, appears to be a target for the Rays.

Getty Images

Slugger Josh Willingham, who hit 29 homers for the A’s last season, appears to be a target for the Rays.

DALLAS — The Rays had a busy first day at the winter meetings, talking trade with several teams and negotiating with free agents including outfielder/DH Josh Willingham.

While no deals were considered imminent, it did appear by Monday night that their top two decision-makers would be sticking around.

Manager Joe Maddon said talks on an extension to his contract, which runs only through the 2012 season, have begun and he was "very confident" a new deal would be struck. "I'm sure it's going to be all worked out in due time," Maddon said.

And executive vice president Andrew Friedman eliminated any possibility — albeit extremely slim anyway — that he would leave for a job with his hometown Astros.

"Andrew chose not to be a part of the Astros' process," team president Matt Silverman said in a statement. "It is in no way a reflection on the Houston organization."

The Rays' top offseason goal is improving their offense, with Willingham, a free agent with a solid record of success, emerging Monday as a possibility.

Willingham, a right-handed hitter who turns 33 in February, hit a career-high 29 homers for Oakland last year, with a .246 average, .332 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage. He can play left and right, but the Rays likely would use him primarily as a DH, a significant power upgrade over free agent Johnny Damon, who hit 16 homers.

But the number of other teams interested — reportedly at least three others — and the amount they'd be willing to spend may dictate the direction of the talks. Willingham made $6 million last season, with his agent reportedly seeking a three-year deal.

Another option is trading with one of the numerous teams that have expressed interest in their stable of starting pitchers, primarily James Shields and Wade Davis. The Royals, Marlins and Reds — who all have young hitters — are among those in the conversations.

Overall, Friedman said of the first day: "It's been busy." As for the possibilities of a deal? "It's something that kind of vacillates by the minute. There were times (Monday) where I was pretty optimistic about certain things and then different times where I was a lot more pessimistic."

Maddon has been optimistic about staying with the Rays past the coming season, but Monday was the first indication there have been discussions.

Maddon, who just won his second AL manager of the year award, would seem to be in line to at least double his current salary of about $1.3 million, which is in the bottom third of current managers.

"We've been talking a little bit in general, it's just basic stuff," Maddon said. "I'm a Ray. I have a lot of faith in being a Ray as I continue along. I've talked about that this for me is the best place to work in major-league baseball. Of course, everybody is looking for security, we all want security.

"For me it's just about having an open conversation. We never would negotiate in public, anything like that. It's just about an ongoing conversation right now, and we'll see how it all or when it plays out. But I'm not worried about anything."

Friedman, per policy, wouldn't discuss the status of negotiations, but said, "My expectation is to work with Joe for a long time."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon "very confident" of contract extension; Andrew Friedman says no to Astros job 12/05/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 10:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But, for whatever reason, he just didn't pitch well and got knocked out in the third.

  3. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  4. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
  5. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]