The Rundown: More from Maddon Monday, Cubs Re-Sign Wada, Free Agency Begins

I think I’m suffering from a Joe Maddon press conference hangover.

Stuck at work yesterday at 2:00, I was unable to watch or listen to the event live. From snippets I caught on Twitter, and excited text updates from friends, it sounded like it was going pretty well. After getting home and being able to watch in its entirety, the verdict was in: Joe did not disappoint.

Evan did a great job of breaking down the presser, but a couple other points I found interesting:

* I really enjoyed when Maddon talked about evaluating young players by talking to them, rather than simply looking at whether a player is having success at the plate, stats-wise. His ability to read people and get an idea of whether a player belongs in the big leagues based on conversations sounds like it’s very unique.

* Maddon seems like a perfect mix of analytics and gut feelings. It sounds like he uses a great deal of analytics, but at the same time uses his experience to make quick decisions when needed, without referring to the card in his back pocket.

* Theo Epstein made a point of acknowledging the presence of pitching coach Chris Bosio at the press conference. Maddon also briefly referenced Bosio. That says to me that Bosio will most definitely be sticking around for next season. (Bruce Levine had previously reported that the Twins might want to poach Bosio from the Cubs.)

Maddon clearly killed the press conference. It’s so nice to be genuinely excited about the Cubs again. Now we only have to wait about five months to see what he can do in the Cubs dugout.

Epstein talks Maddon

On Monday afternoon, Theo Epstein joined the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 (around the 1:48 mark) to discuss the recently concluded Joe Maddon press conference. I highly recommend giving this a listen. Some highlights:

* Epstein was very impressed with how Rick Renteria handled the news. Renteria felt a clean break would be best, even though the Cubs offered him other positions throughout the organization.

* The best part for me came when discussing how Maddon inspires Epstein to work harder, have more energy and do a great job. Epstein said he sees how Maddon could have this effect on players as well, making them play harder.

* Epstein and Hoyer stopped at a supermarket to buy a bottle of wine to bring to the first meeting with Maddon at his RV. That is awesome.

* When asked for his assessment on the progress of The Plan, Epstein actually admitted they were ahead of schedule. “I’m probably not supposed to say that,” he said. I would think the hiring of Maddon has a lot to do with the advanced progress.

Return of Wada

The Cubs on Monday re-signed LHP Tsuyoshi Wada to a one-year deal worth $4 million.

Wada, 33, was signed last off-season to a minor league deal and joined the Cubs’ rotation in July. He did a pretty good job, finishing the year with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts.

Wada provides more depth for the Cubs, along with Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront and Eric Jokisch, and has as good a chance as any of them to grab the fifth-starter spot. I wouldn’t hate that.

Another year with the Cubs means more time for you all to work on your Wada puns.

12 players receive qualifying offers

Free agency started at 11 p.m. last night. Buckle your seat belt.

Yesterday was also the deadline for free agents to receive one-year qualifying offers, in which players can either accept the offer or elect free agency.

Twelve players received qualifying offers. Players with possible future Cubs connections include:

* Francisco Liriano
* Russell Martin
* David Robertson
* Pablo Sandoval
* James Shields

If these players opt for free agency (they are all expected to, with the possible exception of Liriano) and the Cubs sign one or more, they’d have to forfeit 2015 draft picks. However, because the Cubs finished as one of the worst 10 teams in 2014, their first-round pick is protected.

Who from this list intrigues you the most? I’d have to say Shields, followed by Martin. I’d rather not spend a ton of money on Robertson, and I don’t think Sandoval is a fit.

Other notes

* Aramis Ramirez exercised his option to remain with the Brewers next year. He’ll make $14 million in 2015. Always liked A-Ram, but have to wonder when the wheels are going to fall off. He’s 36 years old.

* Joe Maddon feels bad about how things went down for Rick Renteria, writes Bruce Levine. “I definitely want to give him a phone call once all of this dies down,” Maddon said. “He is one of the guys. He might be one of the first guys I want to call.” It sounds like everyone is rooting for Renteria to land on his feet somewhere. I know I am.

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