Andrew Friedman made his first major statement as the Dodgers president of baseball operations Friday, reiterating that Don Mattingly will manage the team next season, even with Joe Maddon suddenly available to replace him.
Maddon, who worked under Friedman for the last nine seasons, terminated his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and is free to negotiate elsewhere.
Friedman did what he could to calm widespread speculation he might hire Maddon, issuing a statement through the Dodgers that read, “As I said last week, Joe and I enjoyed a tremendous relationship working together in Tampa Bay, and I wish him nothing but the best, wherever his next stop will be. However, nothing has changed on our end. Don Mattingly will be our manager next season and hopefully for a long time to come.”
Friedman said last week that Mattingly would “definitely” return in 2015. At the time, Friedman said he and Mattingly were “very aligned on a lot of things philosophically.”
Mattingly, who recently completed the first year of a three-year contract, declined to comment.
Maddon, 60, had a record of 754-705 with the small-market Rays, whom he managed to four postseason berths, including a run to the World Series in 2008. He was under contract with the Rays through the end of next season and said last week that he intended to remain with the organization.
But Maddon had the right to opt out of his deal if Friedman left the Rays. He exercised that provision when talks about a new contract broke down. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he doesn’t have a next job lined up and that his decision was based on financial considerations, as well as a curiosity about other opportunities.
“I have been doing this for a long time,’' Maddon told the newspaper. “I have never had this opportunity to research my employment on my terms. Never, never, never. And I think anybody given the same set of circumstances would do the same thing.’'
The Dodgers could hire Maddon to work in their front office, but Maddon said he wants to manage next season. Also, hiring Maddon in any capacity would present a significant distraction for the team, as he would be viewed as a manager-in-waiting.
The Minnesota Twins are the only team currently without a manger, but some larger-market teams are expected to attempt to land Maddon, including the Chicago Cubs.
Maddon owns a home in Long Beach and spent 31 years in the Angels organization as a minor league manager, scout, roving hitting instructor and big league coach. He was Angels Manager Mike Scioscia’s bench coach from 2000 to 2005. Although the Angels think very highly of Maddon, it is highly unlikely Maddon would return to Anaheim any time soon.
Scioscia, who has guided the Angels to the 2002 World Series championship and six American League West titles in 15 years, has four years and about $20 million left on his contract and has no plans to step down.
“I’m coming back next year, for sure,” Scioscia said.
Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez
Times staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.