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Joe Maddon opts out of Rays contract

Maddon is leaving the Rays, but he's not necessarily headed to the Dodgers.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 MLB Bracket

Rays manager Joe Maddon isn't sticking around in Tampa Bay after all, as the longest-tenured manager in the organization's history has exercised an opt-out clause on Friday according to ESPN's Buster Olney. This comes on the heels of general manager Andrew Friedman leaving the Rays to become the President of Baseball Operations for the Dodgers on a five-year, $35 million deal.

Maddon became the Rays manager after the 2005 season, and had led Friedman's teams to the only successes the franchise has ever known. The 2008 iteration made the playoffs and the World Series for the first time, and while they haven't progressed past the Division Series since, they did manage to break the Yankees - Red Sox stranglehold on the American League East by winning the division in 2010.

The Rays and Maddon had been discussing a new deal, but, per the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, the two sides were "still too far apart." According to Maddon himself, he's making his exit due to a combination of "financial issues" -- likely the failed negotiations -- and curiosity for the opportunities that will present themselves now that he's a free agent.

Where Maddon is headed is unknown at this stage, though, you wouldn't be irresponsible in thinking he's headed west to join Friedman on the Dodgers. Don Mattingly's job security has never truly been secure there, even when it's seemed like it should be, and Maddon is considered by many to be a manager without peer in today's game.

With that being said, though, you shouldn't expect it: Maddon's ability to opt-out was triggered with Friedman's exit, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, and he might just be taking advantage of that to find a new situation that's amenable to him. Heyman also reported that there were some "contentious" days in Tampa Bay since Friedman departed for Los Angeles, and this might have pushed him out, as he had the ability to opt-out from the moment that Friedman left. The combination of Heyman and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal both saying Maddon isn't headed to the Dodgers probably kills that dream.

Maddon ends his Rays' career with a .517 winning percentage and four playoff appearances -- that kind of success is incredible when you consider Maddon was there for two of the then-Devil Rays' rebuilding seasons, in which they lost 101 and 96 games, respectively.