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Chicago Cubs

Joe Maddon 'didn't want to be back' with Cubs

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (left) speaks with new manager Joe Maddon after a news conference Oct. 24 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (left) speaks with new manager Joe Maddon after a news conference Oct. 24 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

CHICAGO – Departed Cubs manager Joe Maddon had some interesting comments in the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday.

Although he appeared to have an amiable split from the Cubs, Maddon already seems to be much happier as the Angels’ new manager.

“I didn’t know how the end of the season with the Cubs was going to work out,” Maddon said. “Everyone thinks they knew, but they didn’t, and I didn’t either. When it got down to the last couple days, it was really obvious to both sides.

“I didn’t want to be back, either. It was more of a bilateral than a unilateral decision.”

Maddon said he spoke to his replacement, David Ross, on Sunday. That was the day before the ex-catcher was formally introduced as the Cubs’ manager at Wrigley Field.

“We had a great conversation,” said Maddon, who guided the Cubs to the playoffs four times in five seasons, including the 2016 World Series championship. “I love that David’s there. I love David. I think he’s going to do a great job, actually, and I love a lot of the players there.

“I got more thought-provoking, tear-provoking outreach from some Cubs players at the end of this season than I’ve ever gotten before.”

Maddon obviously heard all of the talk at Monday’s news conference about Ross bringing needed accountability and energy to the Cubs’ dugout.

“All these semantics and descriptions, I don’t necessarily agree with all that,” Maddon said. “We’ll see how it all works out. But I’m really into David being really successful.”

DARVISH STICKING AROUND

As expected, starting pitcher Yu Darvish will not opt out of the remainder of his contract with the Cubs.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was the first to report the news Thursday.

Darvish signed a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs before the 2018 season.

The 33-year-old right-hander was 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in his first year while making only eight starts because of injuries.

Darvish was much better this season, going 6-8 with a 3.98 ERA and 229 strikeouts in 1782/3 innings over 31 starts.

By staying with the Cubs instead of becoming a free agent, Darvish is owed $81 million over the next four years.

FREE AGENT WATCH

Outfielder Nick Castellanos, infielder Ben Zobrist, starting pitcher Cole Hamels, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and relief pitchers Xavier Cedeno, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler and Pedro Strop declared for free agency Thursday.

Teams must decide by Monday whether to make $17.8 million qualifying offers to their former players who became free agents. Players are eligible for the offer if they were on the roster for the entire season and have never received a qualifying offer before. The price dropped for the first time, by $100,000, after a second straight slow offseason for roster moves.

Castellanos is not eligible to receive a qualifying offer because he was acquired in a midseason trade with the Tigers.

Teams have five days after the conclusion of the World Series to extend qualifying offers.

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