BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Cubs will still be paying Rick Renteria while he works for the White Sox.
That’s another twist to the Joe Maddon story, with Renteria being formally announced as Robin Ventura’s bench coach on the South Side, one year and 10 days after the Cubs fired him to make room for a star manager.
“They got a great guy for them and a great fit,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday during the GM meetings at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. “I just hope this starts his path back to being a manager, (because) I think he’ll be a very good one once he gets another opportunity.
“We’ve said it openly: Ricky had a good year with us. And I don’t feel like we treated him entirely fairly. I think what happened was based on circumstances.”
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That would be Andrew Friedman bolting from the Tampa Bay Rays last October to run baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers, triggering an escape clause in Maddon’s contract.
The Cubs had already told Renteria he “absolutely” would be back in 2015 after guiding the team to 73 wins – a seven-game improvement from the year before – and getting All-Star seasons from shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
But president of baseball operations Theo Epstein felt like the Cubs couldn’t afford to pass on Maddon, who got a five-year, $25 million contract, changed the culture for a 97-win team and became a finalist for the National League Manager of the Year Award.
“Obviously, we’re thrilled with Joe,” Hoyer said. “We had a wonderful year. But Ricky sort of deserved better. I’m glad he gets a chance with the White Sox. I’m glad because he’s in Chicago. I’ll probably see him more often and I wish him luck. I think he’ll do a great job.”
Hoyer and Renteria had worked together with the San Diego Padres and stayed in touch as the Cubs finished with the third-best record in baseball and won two postseason rounds.
“We texted back and forth,” Hoyer said. “The whole playoff run, after our wins, he would always text and say congratulations and stuff. So he’s got a big heart. And I think he was really happy for the guys he touched during the course of the season.”