Joe Maddon may not end up being the biggest free agent the Cubs land this offseason. But the new Cubs skipper may be just the bait to lure an even bigger fish.
This past week, I spoke with a representative who advises multiple Cubs players. At the forefront of our conversation was the potential impact Maddon could have on free agents this winter.
Apparently, there is not only some indusrtry buzz as a whole when it come to the Cubs and their new manager, but the players for hire are talking about it too. No, this should not come as breaking news to most. However, it is still somewhat surprising to hear industry vets vocalize it, as is the idea that grown-up players have as well.
“Players want to play for that guy (Maddon),” this agent says.
The agent also spoke highly of Maddon’s well-known rep as player’s coach, one who has their back while still being a supreme teacher. He praised the recently-dismissed Rick Renteria as a good teacher and guy himself, but said Maddon is special. He can simply command the attention of players all around the game with his accomplishments in Tampa Bay.
The Maddon hiring was also a clear signal league-wide that the Cubs are once again open for business. When it comes to player agents, the Cubs have become their godsend this offseason.
The sleeping big-market giant has awakened out of its three-year hibernation. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have turned their attention to winning, and have voiced publicly their intention to reel in some impact arms.
You better believe every agent out there is whispering in every major writer’s ear that the Cubs are “in on” their guy.
“We’re literally linked to every single free agent, it seems like,” Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney. “Some of that’s agent-driven, to try and connect us to everyone because they realize that we do have some payroll flexibility.”
Could the Cubs be setting themselves up for some blowback if they don’t get one of the major names out there? You bet, yet Hoyer recently tried to take expectations down just a notch.
“We’ve said all along, if the right things line up, we could have an active offseason. We’re not going to force it. Certainly, a lot of the reports we’ve read make it seem like we’re going to have some kind of supercharged offseason, and I think that’s probably overstated.”
Who would be the biggest get for the Cubs? According to the player rep with whom I spoke, Russell Martin would instantly help transform the locker room along with Maddon. Martin, he says, would be exactly the type of veteran lieutenant the Cubs clubhouse needs.
Maddon himself has said recently that he needs some “lead bulls” to help spread his message.
The message is out: the Cubs already have their new lead bull, and he could end up drawing impact players with him to Chicago.