Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays last Friday after nearly a decade with the franchise. Maddon, who came to the club in 2006, went 754-705 in nine seasons there, leading the Rays to two AL East titles and a World Series appearance.
News of Maddon’s decision was a shock to his now-former players.
“I was actually back home for a few days with some family and stuff like that,” Rays pitcher Alex Cobb said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I received a text from our new GM, Matt Silverman, (on Friday morning). The news was about to break, and (he) just said not to worry too much about it. We’ll talk more as the week goes on and things start (to) settle down. Shortly after that, I saw it all over TV.”
Cobb was stunned.
“It might not have been such a shocking break of events if I didn’t hear his words spoken after (former general manager) Andrew (Friedman) left of how much he wants to get back to the Rays,” Cobb said. “I honestly didn’t even know he had an option left in his contract. But after hearing that he wanted to stay for a long time and just knowing how much he loves the community in Tampa Bay and how comfortable he is – he’s got his home there, he’s opening up a new restaurant – (it was surprising).”
Cobb had heard various media personalities say Maddon would leave after Friedman did.
“I was thinking basically it was just noise, just like what I thought Andrew’s departure was – just a bunch of media noise,” Cobb said. “I didn’t really give it much thought. Obviously when I did hear the news, I was pretty blown away by it.”
Cobb admitted that his gut reaction was anger, but the more he thought about it, the more he understood Maddon’s decision.
“You almost feel like everybody’s just giving up on the team that we have because it’s a dead end and they’re kind of just jumping ship on us,” Cobb said. “But once you kind of settle down and you think about it from a personal standpoint and try to put yourself in those situations – (while also) understanding that guys make decisions in this game based on personal reasons and where they feel most comfortable spending the . . . next few years of their life – (it makes more sense). You can’t ever understand fully what goes into these decisions from a personal standpoint. I think once you sit down and think about that and understand that he’s thinking about his family, where he’s feel comfortable, it’s hard to blame somebody.”
Cobb, 27, is grateful for what Friedman and Maddon have done for him, but he also believe the organization will be able to move forward.
“Ultimately, those guys have done a lot of hard work and put a lot of time and effort into this game,” Cobb said. “They feel like they want to reap the benefits of where they’re at in the careers right now. Unfortunately for the Rays organization, that’s elsewhere. But we’ll be fine from this. We’ll definitely be able to rebound.”