MESA, Ariz. — Chicago Cubs boss Theo Epstein was diplomatic when it came to former manager Joe Maddon’s assertion that he wanted to leave the team after his contract was up, regardless of whether the front office wanted him back.
“That would conflict with some of the things that he and his agent were saying and doing toward the end of the season,” Epstein said from Cubs camp on Tuesday. “If that’s how he feels, I’m not going to dispute it. That doesn’t reflect the conversations we were having.”
Added Epstein later: “I love Joe. Nothing is going to get in the way of that. I don’t think he meant any ill will with his comments.”
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN, Maddon opened up about the end of his tenure as Cubs manager. Under his leadership, the Cubs made the playoffs four straight years and won the 2016 World Series — the organization’s first championship in 108 years. However, the Cubs won 11 fewer games in 2019 than they did in 2018, missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.
After leaving the Cubs, Maddon signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels, the organization that previously employed him for decades as a player and then a…