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Matt Silverman says Rays intend to keep Joe Maddon

Matt Silverman, left, with manager Joe Maddon, moves from team president to president of baseball operations. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Matt Silverman, left, with manager Joe Maddon, moves from team president to president of baseball operations. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published Oct. 16, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — Until and if the Rays sign manager Joe Maddon to another multiseason extension, there will be speculation that he eventually will join departed top executive Andrew Friedman with the Dodgers.

But as for the idea that Maddon could go — via trade or other brokered deal — in the next few months, new Rays baseball president Matt Silverman said Wednesday that there are no scenarios where Maddon doesn't manage the Rays in 2015.

"Joe's our manager," Silverman said. "I see him here this year, and I see him here for many more years."

Maddon is entering the final season of a three-year deal, worth $2 million annually, that will mark 10 years on the job. He said again Tuesday that he wants to stay long term and expects talks on another extension to take place in the next few months. Silverman, who handled the previous negotiations, said Wednesday that he has a similar plan.

"It's hard to imagine this club not being managed by Joe," Silverman said. "We want him here, Joe says he wants to be here, those are the ingredients for another deal. We've had several so far, and I'm hopeful that we're going to have another one."

Silverman said he would prefer to strike a new deal with Maddon before the start of the season, but it is not essential — noting Maddon got to the end of his deal once before — and that he would be comfortable trying to sign him back at the end of the season when he could be a free agent. Maddon also said he would be fine with going into his final season without an extension.

Doing so, however, would not only fuel the speculation that Maddon was planning to leave but create a distraction that would hang over the team from the first day of spring training. (For what it's worth, the big-budget Dodgers have manager Don Mattingly under contract through 2016.)

"There's no blueprint for it," Silverman said. "The only thing we really need is both parties to want to have Joe manage here long term, and that seems to be here."

Silverman wouldn't share a timetable for opening talks and said he hoped to conclude them in private with no media attention anyway. Maddon said he assumed Silverman would need some transition time and there was "no rush to anything."

Otherwise, Silverman said most of his work as president of baseball operations will follow the plan Friedman already had in place, with similar expectations that they can return to contention in 2015 after going 77-85 this past season.

Most significantly, that means only tweaking rather than overhauling the roster, more likely through trades than free agent signings, with a payroll expected to be lower — though he doesn't know yet how much lower — than this season's franchise-record $80 million.

"It's on the margins that we're looking to make changes and address some needs," Silverman said. "But the core talent is there, the core players are there. And if our guys perform up to our potential, we're going to be back where we want to be, playing those meaningful games in September."

Silverman said he will assume the bulk of the work Friedman did, such as talking to agents and officials of other teams, but will delegate some to other officials in the baseball operations department, such as Chaim Bloom and Erik Neander, allowing them to expand their roles.

Silverman said he plans to keep the top baseball-side officials, such as farm director Mitch Lukevics and scouting director R.J. Harrison, in place and is in the process of re-signing much of the scouting and minor-league staff. He also said he has no plans to hire any additional baseball officials to join the front office nor to name a general manager.

Friedman has yet to comment on why he left the Rays for the Dodgers. Plans for a news conference in Los Angeles were delayed as MLB didn't want an overlap with the playoff series.

NOTE: Rays left-hander Jeff Beliveau was added to the MLB team that will tour Japan next month.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.