Cubs make Maddon hire official

Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Cubs formally ushered in another new era by introducing former Tampa Bay Rays skipper Joe Maddon as their new manager on Monday.

The team also announced that Maddon agreed to a five-year contract in which financial terms were not disclosed, though ESPN reported the deal to be worth $25 million and includes incentives tied to making the postseason.

The Cubs moved quickly to obtain Maddon's services after the two-time American League Manager of the Year opted out of his contract with the Rays on Oct. 24, shortly after Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman left the organization to become the president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Maddon, who guided the small-market Rays to four playoff appearances and the 2008 AL pennant over the past seven seasons, joins a long-suffering Cubs franchise that has endured five consecutive losing campaigns and last won the World Series in 1908.

"This is a 1-in-107 a year opportunity for me," said Maddon during Monday's press conference. "The challenge is so outstanding. How could you not want to be in this seat?"

The Cubs' future appeared bright even before the hiring of the enthusiastic and ever-optimistic Maddon, though. Chicago's present farm system is ranked among baseball's strongest and the Cubs are expected to be significant players in free agency this offseason, something Maddon never experienced during his successful nine-year run with the low-budget Rays.

Those factors, coupled with Friedman's departure and the presence of Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein -- who nearly hired Maddon as the Red Sox' manager in 2004 while then Boston's GM -- played a role in Maddon's decision.

"I knew there was a lot of common ground philosophically," said Maddon. "I know that the synergy between the front office and the manager is really, really important. This is a really good fit for me personally. I feel very comfortable here."

The 60-year-old takes over a Cubs team that showed improvement in Rick Renteria's lone season as manager, with Chicago posting a 73-89 record in 2014 after winning 66 and 61 games the previous two years.

Despite those strides, Epstein informed Renteria last week of his intention to pursue Maddon and make a switch. Renteria was offered another position within the organization but predictably declined.

Even though they annually operated with one of the lowest payrolls in the majors, the Rays were a consistent contender for much of Maddon's reign. Lauded for his ability to work with young players and to maximize the available talent on hand, the charismatic manager guided Tampa to six consecutive winning seasons that began with the unexpected 2008 World Series run.

"Joe is a combination of just about everything we look for in a manager," said Epstein. "Everyone associates him with new-school because they've used analytics in Tampa and he's so open-minded and so progressive. But this is an old-school baseball guy with a wealth of knowledge. It's hard to find old- school and new-school in the same package."

The Rays, who had never won over 70 games in their first 10 seasons prior to that 2008 breakthrough, also reached the playoffs in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Maddon amassed a 754-705 overall record in Tampa Bay, easily the most of any manager in club history.