Rays reward Maddon with extension
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon wasn't looking to leave, and Tampa Bay had no intention of letting him go.
The Rays rewarded their manager for leading them to last season's World Series, announcing a three-year contract extension Monday that runs through 2012.
"This is where I belong. This is where I want to be," Maddon said during a conference call.
"I really have to use the word love when I talk about this organization, and I really see this as just the beginning. ... For me, it's a no-brainer. I really want to stay here, and I'm really grateful to get that opportunity."
Maddon, 55, is in his fourth season with Tampa Bay, which posted a winning record for the first time in 2008. He was voted AL Manager of the Year after leading the Rays to 97 regular-season wins, a 31-game turnaround from the previous year.
Tampa Bay started Monday with a 23-23 record, four games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
"It gives us stability in a critical position that our team needs," executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said, adding the decision to give Maddon a new deal was a "no-brainer" for the club, too.
"Going back three years ago, we talked a lot about creating a strong organization, one that is a destination spot for players, and I think we've come a long way on that front," Friedman said. "Joe's a big part of that."
Under Maddon's guidance, Tampa Bay went from 61 victories in 2006 to 66 in 2007 and the club's first division title and playoff berth a year ago. The 31-game improvement was the third-largest in AL history.
All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, who is signed through 2013 with team options that run through 2016, was excited about the move.
"Obviously I'm going to be here for a while, too," Longoria said before Tampa Bay's game at Cleveland. "So this is a great thing for me. I love playing for him, I think he's a great manager."
Maddon was in the final year of his contract, but had made it clear during spring training that he was interested in remaining with the team. He reiterated Monday that he was not curious about any interest he might attract from other clubs if the Rays had waited until later to address his future.
"I've never been one to seek greener pastures. I've always kind of been loyal to my situation," Maddon said, adding the Rays have a nice core of young players, as well as plenty of promising prospects in the minor leagues, who could help Tampa Bay remain successful for years to come.
"It was never about looking anywhere else," the manager said, "regardless of what had happened last year."
Team president Matt Silverman said while there was no timetable for striking a deal, there was never a doubt that the Rays wanted to keep Maddon.
"Joe wants to be here. We want Joe as our manager. ... The trust level was sufficiently high among all of us that we knew this contract would get done," Silverman said. "Once we started the conversations, it proceeded very rapidly, and we were able to wrap this up in a couple of days."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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