Joe Maddon opts out of Rays contract

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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is opting out of his contract and will not be coaching the team in 2015, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.com on Twitter.

The shocking announcement comes after Maddon’s recent statement saying he expected to remain in Tampa.

Maddon’s departure makes it the second hitting the Rays in the span of a month as long-time GM Andrew Friedman leaves the team for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com also tweeted that Maddon’s opt-out clause correlates with Friedman’s departure, which fueled speculation that Maddon could follow Friedman to the Dodgers.

Everyone involved dismissed that theory quickly, writes Jeff Todd of MLBTradeRumors.com

Currently, the only open MLB managerial seat is at the Minnesota Twins, although the search for a new skipper is well under way.

The Rays “tried diligently and aggressively to sign [Maddon] to a third contract extension prior to his decision,” said owner Stuart Sternberg in a statement.

Sternberg added Maddon’s deal, which runs through 2015, “enabled himself to explore opportunities throughout Major League Baseball.”

Maddon led the Rays for nine seasons, building his reputation as an innovator. He helped turn the team from a basement dweller to AL East championships and four postseason appearances.

Nevertheless, Maddon says a combination of financial disagreements and a desire for new opportunities led to his decision, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Although there were discussions of a new deal, Maddon says both sides “were still too far apart.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.