Cubs

Edwin Jackson DFA’d as Rafael Soriano joins Cubs’ bullpen

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Edwin Jackson DFA’d as Rafael Soriano joins Cubs’ bullpen

ATLANTA — Two and a half seasons into a four-year, $52 million deal, the Cubs are saying goodbye to Edwin Jackson.

Reliever Rafael Soriano will join the Cubs for Monday’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds, and to make room for the right-hander with 207 career saves, the Cubs will designate Jackson for assignment. The 31-year-old finished his Cubs career with a 16-34 record and 5.37 ERA in 82 games (58 starts), though he did have a 3.19 ERA in 31 innings out of the bullpen in 2015.

“I wasn’t really expecting it, but at this point in my career, it’s hard for me to say I’m surprised about anything that happens,” Jackson said. “It sucks, but it’s just the business part of the game. I’ll be all right, the team will be all right. Hopefully throughout my time here I left some kind of positive influence on the guys that they can continue to keep it going.”

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With Soriano re-gaining his arm strength in the farm system — he signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in June and pitched in seven games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa — the organization was faced with a difficult decision on who he’d replace in the major league bullpen. Despite having two years and a pro-rated $26 million left on his contract, Jackson was the guy jettisoned.

Soriano saved 32 games for Washington in 2014 — though he had a 7.56 ERA in September — and racked up 40 or more saves three times, including in 2010 with Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Maddon, who managed Jackson from 2006-08 with Tampa Bay, was effusive in his praise of his departing pitcher.

“What a professional athlete and person that Edwin is,” Maddon said. “I’ve known him for a long time, I wasn’t here when he went through some tough moments here, but everybody speaks so well of how he handled those and how accountable he was to (the media) and to his teammates.

“The word class often time for me is absolutely thrown out there way too readily, too easily — I really believe it applies to him and how he handles himself and his decorum among professionals. He’s a good friend, I really believe he’s going to get another opportunity and I really wish him nothing but the best in that this next opportunity really blossoms for him.

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“First-rate human being.”

Added starter Jake Arrieta, who was close with Jackson and his family: “He’s one of the best human beings I’ve ever been around. It’s hard to see him go.”

Jackson will hang back in Atlanta — he went to high school just down I-85 in Columbus, Ga. — and said he won’t worry about what’s next since it’s out of his control. The Cubs have 10 days to place him on waivers, trade him, release him or outright him to the minor leagues, though Jackson could decline that assignment and become a free agent.

“It’s just a waiting game now,” Jackson said. “Wait and see. Something will happen. Just not sure when, where, or who.”

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi’s name has come up for just about every managerial opening in Major League Baseball and it sounds like he is all in on pursuing that opportunity.

Girardi was set to manage USA Baseball’s Olympic qualifying team. He was named the manager of Team USA in August. His first tournament was going to be the upcoming Premier12 tournament, which is the first chance to qualify for the Olympics. Camp was set to begin on Oct. 21 and the U.S.’s first game is Nov. 2.

Instead, Girardi has stepped down. USA Baseball broke the news with a press release that announced Scott Brosius, a former teammate of Girardi’s on the Yankees, will take over.

The reason is the interesting part. He stepped down “as he pursues open managerial opportunities in Major League Baseball.”

At the very least, it sounds like Girardi is interested in at least one of the openings in MLB. He interviewed with the Cubs last week so this won't quell any speculation that he would come back to the North Side as a manager.

David Ross may still be the odds on favorite to fill the Cubs’ vacancy, but Girardi’s apparent interest in rejoining the ranks of MLB managers is certainly noteworthy. One would think if Girardi wants to get back into managing in MLB, at this indicates, he will get a job. Now the question is where he will land.

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Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Barring a Cubs-Angels World Series, the Wrigley Field faithful might not have much of an opportunity to welcome Joe Maddon back to The Friendly Confines.

It didn't take long for Maddon to find a job, as he reportedly agreed this week to join the Los Angeles Angels as their next manager. This was a widely speculated move after the Angels let go of manager Brad Ausmus just one year into a three-year contract immediately after the Cubs announced they were parting ways with Maddon. 

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Maddon's deal will likely be for three years at $4-5 million a season:

Maddon came up as a coach in the Angels system, referencing his three decades there often during the course of his five years in Chicago.

Once the Cubs got rid of Maddon, it was obvious he would have plenty of suitors, as just about any team with a managerial vacancy would be interested in the future Hall of Famer. But instead of going to an up-and-coming team like the Padres or a squad on the cusp of the playoffs like the Phillies, Maddon opted to return to his baseball home.

That means he will most likely not face off against the Cubs over the next couple of seasons, as the Cubs hosted the Angels in 2019 and are not slated to play each other again until 2021 (which will take place in L.A.). Barring the aforementioned World Series meeting, Maddon and the Cubs likely won’t cross paths in Chicago for the next few seasons.

It also means Maddon will get to team up with the best player in the game (Mike Trout) and an exciting young two-way star (Shohei Ohtani) while inheriting a roster that otherwise has some major flaws. The Angels have struggled to build up a roster around Trout over his nine seasons, making the playoffs just once in 2014 and getting bounced from the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals that season.

But the Angels do have some intriguing prospects coming up the system — led by outfielder Jo Adell — and Maddon has experience taking a team and elevating them to contender status immediately. He also carries immediate clout that will help draw free agents to L.A., as he did in Chicago with Jon Lester.

Maddon will be reunited with former Cubs fan favorite Tommy La Stella, who was starring for the Angels earlier this season before a leg injury sent him to the shelf for several months.

In many ways, this is an ideal fit for Maddon, who will get to stay in a big market with a team willing to spend and a roster that at least has some incredible talent from Day 1. It would obviously be a difficult task to try to overtake the juggernaut Houston Astros in the AL West, but he accomplished a similar feat in Chicago when he led the Cubs past the Cardinals in Year 1 (and kept the Cards out of the playoffs for the next three years until their return to October baseball this fall).

The Cubs, meanwhile, have not yet announced a new manager, though David Ross still looms as the favorite to take over Maddon's former gig. Theo Epstein's front office interviewed Mark Loretta, Will Venable, Joe Girardi and Ross earlier this month and also planned to talk to Joe Espada and Gabe Kapler this week.

Epstein said the Cubs are "full speed ahead" to hire a new manager, so expect them to move quickly to finalize Maddon's heir.