Reports continue to link Maddon, Cubs

It’s been exactly one week since Joe Maddon informed the Rays he was opting out of the final year of his contract, and it seems he’s close to finding a new home.

Rumors swirled before Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night that Maddon, who managed the Rays for nine seasons, was on the verge of agreeing to a deal to become the Cubs’ new manager. CBS Sports first broke the news, which was also reported by the New York Post.

Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, denied that a deal was in place Wednesday night. The Cubs have not publicly commented on the reports. At the moment, Rick Renteria is still the Cubs’ manager.

“We don’t have a done deal,” Nero told MLB.com. “We continue to talk to several clubs. It’s not to say we won’t have a deal done in the next few days, and if we do, it will be announced.”

But given the amount of speculation that linked Maddon to the Cubs almost immediately after he invoked the opt-out clause in his contract with the Rays, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until Maddon joins the North Siders.

In fact, Fox Sports and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Thursday evening that an official announcement could come as early as Friday.

Maddon had been signed to a three-year deal with the Rays that ran through the 2015 season. Former executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman left the Rays to join the Dodgers on Oct. 14, triggering an opt-out clause in Maddon’s contract.

Maddon invoked that opt-out clause, although principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays attempted “diligently and aggressively” to sign Maddon to another contract extension. President of baseball operations Matt Silverman said last week the Rays made several “very generous” offers to try to keep Maddon on board, “and it became clear from his responses it was not an exercise that was going to lead to an outcome.”

Renteria released the following statement Monday afternoon: “I was hired nearly a year ago to be the Chicago Cubs manager. Notwithstanding all the speculation, I continue to focus my offseason preparation on achieving the goal we established from the start: bringing a championship to Chicago.”

The Rays, meanwhile, will continue to look for their next manager. They could have a list of candidates in place next week.

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