Maddon agent: Tampering talk silly

CHICAGO -- The agent of new Cubs manager Joe Maddon denies any tampering allegations while insisting Maddon would have stayed in Tampa Bay if they had increased their offer.

"Theo [Epstein] would not even have talked unless he got clearance from the commissioner's office," agent Alan Nero said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday. "It's silly to suggest that [tampering], if they want to pursue that, that's fine.

"In my world, if someone in your family has an opportunity to better themselves, you give them your blessing and move on. This accusation of tampering is really sad and a bit insulting."

The Rays are considering filing tampering charges, according to the Tampa Bay Times, as they believe Epstein enticed Maddon to opt out of his final contract year.

At first, Nero says he asked the Rays if Maddon could look for other opportunities while also negotiating with Tampa Bay during a 14-day opt-out window. They refused permission and so the sides spent "five to six days negotiating in good faith" exclusively before realizing they were too far apart. That's when Maddon decided to opt out.

"Our proposals were under market value," Nero said. "Joe would have stayed if they had stepped up."

Nero says 10 teams immediately called with front office or broadcast opportunities but there were no other clubs besides the Cubs willing to fire their manager as only the Minnesota Twins had an opening at the time.

"It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that," Nero stated about other teams. "The first contact with the Cubs was basically an email asking us to prove there was an opt-out and Theo doing his due diligence."

The Cubs fired their existing manager, Rick Renteria, on Friday and then announced a news conference for Monday to introduce Maddon as their new skipper.

"Everyone has to make business decisions and the Cubs felt this is the guy that might take them to the World Series a lot sooner," Nero said.