Major League Baseball will investigate whether the Chicago Cubs tampered with new Manager Joe Maddon while he was still under contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Cubs and Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, have denied the claim by the Rays, who believe Maddon opted out of his contract with the knowledge the Cubs were prepared to sign him to a lucrative long-term deal. Maddon wound up leaving the Rays for a five-year deal reportedly worth $25 million.
Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer had no comment on the news, which was confirmed by the Tribune after originally being reported by the New York Post.
Cubs President Theo Epstein, who denied the claim last week, was unavailable for comment. The investigation could take as long as a month, but the Cubs are seeking a quick resolution, according to a team source.
“We’ve got nothing to hide,” he said.
The New York Mets made baseball’s first splash of the off-season, agreeing to a two-year contract with two-time All-Star outfielder Michael Cuddyer worth about $21 million. Cuddyer, 35, hit .332 with 10 home runs and 31 runs batted in this year for the Colorado Rockies in a season interrupted by injuries.
For the third straight year, baseball’s free agents shunned qualifying offers from their former teams and chose to test the market. All 12 free agents who were given the $15.3-million offers last week chose not to accept by Monday’s 2 p.m. PST deadline.
Among the notables who are now free agents: third baseman Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco), pitcher Max Scherzer and first baseman-designated hitter Victor Martinez (Detroit), and left-hander Francisco Liriano and catcher Russell Martin (Pittsburgh).