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Mets won't pursue suddenly available Joe Maddon as manager

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon meets with

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon meets with reporters on the field during batting practice before the Rays' baseball game against the Yankees on Friday, April 18, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Credit: AP / Steve Nesius

Joe Maddon might be baseball's brightest free agent this offseason, but he won't be taking his managerial talents to Flushing.

Despite Maddon's sudden availability after opting out from the Rays, Mets manager Terry Collins will remain in his current seat on Opening Day.

"We are not changing managers," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said.

Though the Twins have the only managerial opening in baseball, it appears the highly regarded Maddon will be managing somewhere in 2015.

"I have been doing this for a long time," Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times. "I have never had this opportunity to research my employment on my terms. Never, never, never. And I think anybody given the same set of circumstances would do the same thing."

Maddon told the newspaper that his decision to opt out was "gut-wrenching" and left him "almost feeling sick," though it was prompted by an impasse in negotiations for a contract extension.

Maddon should have no shortage of suitors. The Cubs, a big-market franchise with a roster filled with up-and-coming talent, reportedly have emerged as the frontrunner, even though manager Rick Renteria is under contract.

Speculation swirled as soon as word leaked out Friday that Maddon had opted out, reportedly via a provision that was activated when the Dodgers lured executive Andrew Friedman from the Rays.

Working together, Friedman and Maddon transformed the Rays from perennial doormats to pennant contenders, and speculation immediately cropped up about a reunion with the Dodgers. But Friedman reiterated his intent to stick with manager Don Mattingly, whose job status frequently has been shaky.

Recently, Maddon, 60, expressed his desire to remain with the Rays for the long term, even after Friedman's departure. Maddon was under contract through the 2015 season and had been negotiating a long-term extension. But talks broke down.

Until then, the marriage had flourished. In nine seasons with the Rays, Maddon helped oversee a transformation, going 754-705 and winning the American League pennant in 2008.

"We tried diligently and aggressively to sign Joe to a third contract extension prior to his decision," Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement.

The development stunned many in the game, including friends of Maddon such as Collins, who was "shocked" by the move.

"He was there during the tough times in the beginning," said Collins, who, as manager of the Angels, had Maddon as his bench coach. "Hell, they turned it around and he's been there a long time. I know he loves the Tampa area. He's invested down there. He owns part of a restaurant down in the area. I figured he was going to be there a long time."

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