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NICK CAFARDO | ON BASEBALL

Joe Maddon opts out — so where is he headed?

Joe Maddon leaves after nine years with Tampa Bay, and will be headed for a big raise somewhere.
Joe Maddon leaves after nine years with Tampa Bay, and will be headed for a big raise somewhere.Reinhold Matay/AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Will every team fire their manager to make room for Joe Maddon?

We’re kidding, of course. Aren’t we?

OK, Bruce Bochy is safe in San Francisco. I’d say Buck Showalter is OK in Baltimore. Mike Scioscia is fine in Los Angeles (Angels). Joe Girardi is OK in New York (Yankees) and I’d have to say John Farrell is fine in Boston. The Indians wouldn’t replace Terry Francona.

We all think Maddon is going to the Dodgers. Why wouldn’t we think that? The day Andrew Friedman left the Rays for the Dodgers to be their president of baseball operations, I wrote that Maddon would follow him.

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Maddon had an opt-out in his contract if Friedman left for another job. The deal had one year remaining. Maddon and his agent, Alan Nero, negotiated with the Rays the past few days, but according to Nero, the sides could not reach a financial agreement. So on Friday, Maddon opted out.

Maddon was ranked 10th-12th on the managerial pay scale, so there was plenty of room for him to be top two or three. The salary range he was seeking was likely in the $5 million-$7 million range, according to a major league source, which would have put him in the Scioscia stratosphere.

Friedman immediately came out and told the Los Angeles Times that the Dodgers would not be a suitor for Maddon’s services. After all, Friedman — who took the Dodgers job a week ago at a record rate of five years and $35 million, plus incentives, according to a Buster Olney report on ESPN — had publicly announced that Don Mattingly was returning as manager in 2015.

Friedman told the Los Angeles Times that news of Maddon’s departure would not affect the Dodgers at this time.

So now we wonder.

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Does Mattingly “resign” and help the Dodgers make it look as if he just can’t go on? Or does he dig in his heels and say, “I’m not going anywhere.” If he resigns, we’d know Friedman and Dodgers president Stan Kasten had pushed him out. Then again, you have a chance to get arguably the best manager in the game.

The rumors are already surfacing that Theo Epstein would make a play for Maddon.

The Cubs hired Rick Renteria to manage last season. He was supposed to be the manager they would grow with. He’s bilingual, a big asset considering that some of the Cubs’ top young stars are Hispanic.

I texted Epstein Friday afternoon, saying, “So are teams going to fire their managers so they can hire Maddon?” No response. Didn’t expect one.

If you’re the Phillies, do you really need Ryne Sandberg at the helm? There were player complaints about Sandberg’s bedside manner.

Go right down the list.

The one job open at the moment is in Minnesota. But the Twins aren’t handing out $5 million-$7 million a year for a manager, unless something has drastically changed.

You might question some of Mike Matheny’s moves in St. Louis, but that doesn’t seem like a fit, either.

The White Sox have Robin Ventura, but again, do you see Jerry Reinsdorf dishing out that type of money for Maddon?

The Mets have said they’re bringing back Terry Collins. The Jays have decided to give John Gibbons another chance. The Brewers fired a couple of coaches but are behind Ron Roenicke.

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The Tigers hired Brad Ausmus a year ago. And while reviews were mixed, Ausmus has promise.

The Pirates feel they have one of the best managers in Clint Hurdle. The Rockies could always fall out of love with Walt Weiss.

With John Hart at the helm, would it be a big coup for the Braves to make a managerial change? Fredi Gonzalez has received a pat on the back as well.

The Rangers might be wishing they’d waited a little longer before naming Jeff Banister when they could have had Maddon. They were a team that could afford the salary.

The Mariners were happy with Lloyd McClendon bringing them back to respectability.

The Royals aren’t about to replace Ned Yost after a World Series appearance unless he Grady Littles some big move between now and Nov. 1.

The Padres have Bud Black, but they also have no money.

The Diamondbacks committed to Chip Hale, but we wonder if Tony La Russa would have even considered Maddon if he had been out there sooner.

Getting back to the Red Sox, Maddon was a runner-up candidate to Francona after Little was fired.

So what does this mean for the Red Sox?

Yee-haw!

The Red Sox have to be pleased with the Rays’ defections, as that organization may never be the same. One would think that Maddon’s bench coach, Dave Martinez, has a great chance at the manager’s job. Martinez has been trying to get hired for a few years.

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The Rays are already saying they’ll go through an internal and external process to find a successor. We’ll see whether they bring in Torey Lovullo for an interview; Lovullo has had his share of bad blood with the Rays’ staff.

Maddon is a superstar manager. It’s not often someone of his caliber and star power becomes available. In Los Angeles, he’d be the new Tommy Lasorda. He’d help sell tickets and their new network. He’d be huge.

For years, in a small market, Maddon got the most out of his players. He used statistical analysis to his benefit. He popularized defensive shifting (which I hate), and got the most out of platooning, which helped keep player costs down.

So we’re all curious to see where he goes.

The Dodgers would be nuts to let him go someplace else. But Maddon in Chicago, Wrigley Field, would also be a classic move and a coup for Epstein.


Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.