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Decision on Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s job status expected Sunday

Maddon and team president Theo Epstein planned to meet Saturday night to discuss whether the team will bring back the three-time Manager of the Year.

Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres
Maddon arguing with an ump earlier this month in San Diego.
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

ST. LOUIS — Cubs manager Joe Maddon has taken meetings all week with players checking in on him and his status. And his phone has been especially busy with old friends from home and longtime baseball pals.

‘‘Obviously, they read a lot of different things,’’ he said. ‘‘I get back to them as quickly as I can.’’

He finally might have an answer for them by Sunday morning.

Maddon and Cubs president Theo Epstein planned to meet late Saturday about whether Maddon will be back for a sixth season with the team, and an announcement is expected Sunday.

Asked whether the meeting might involve cocktails, Maddon said: ‘‘Probably, yeah. Not that I need any more of those, man. I’m good.’’

Maddon, 65, repeatedly has said he wants to stay with the Cubs, whom he managed to four consecutive playoff berths. That includes the 2016 team that finally won the Cubs’ historic World Series.

He said he wants to manage five more seasons, whether that’s with the Cubs or someone else.

‘‘We all have a huge amount of respect for Joe and what he’s done here,’’ left fielder Kyle Schwarber said. ‘‘If he comes back, it’s great. If he decides to move on, we wish him the best. But he’s done a lot of dang good here, and you can’t take that away.’’

That includes trips to the National League Championship Series in his first three seasons, the Cubs’ first World Series title in more than a century, more victories than anyone in the majors in his first four seasons, the second-highest winning percentage (.582) of any manager in franchise history with at least 130 games and a franchise-record 19 postseason victories.

‘‘No matter what happens . . . he should be revered as a legend in this town for a long time,’’ veteran left-hander Jon Lester said.

If he’s let go, Maddon likely won’t be unemployed long. The Mets and possibly the Phillies are expected to have managerial openings, and either would seem a strong fit for a three-time Manager of the Year.

Maddon’s status has been on shaky ground since November, when Epstein said he planned to table any decision about whether to offer Maddon an extension until this season played out.

Maddon is in the final season of a five-year deal that is paying him $6 million in 2019.

‘‘When you’re in the position I’m in — and I’ve been there before for two weeks — you do have choices, which is unusual,’’ said Maddon, who exercised an opt-out clause in his contract with the Rays in October 2014 to become a free agent.

The Cubs swooped in, kicked manager Rick Renteria to the curb and hired Maddon.

‘‘We’ll talk it all the way through,’’ Maddon said of the planned conversation with Epstein. ‘‘Listen, we have a wonderful relationship. We work really well together, so we’ll talk about it some more and see where it goes.’’

Players from pre-Maddon holdovers such as Anthony Rizzo to newcomers such as Nick Castellanos expressed support for a manager who pulled out all his zoo-animal, magician and mime tricks in his first season or two with the Cubs, then backed off as the young core matured.

‘‘I’ve respected and loved the time I’ve been here with him,’’ Lester said. ‘‘I’ve loved what he’s done for this organization. I’ve loved what he’s done for our guys. If that means another five years here, great. I won’t be here that long. But I think he’s done a great job of managing not only the people that have come through these clubhouse doors but the team out on the field day in and day out and put us in the best position to succeed.

‘‘That’s all you can ask from a manager is to be put in situations he thinks you’re going to succeed and that the team’s going to succeed. And I think Joe’s done that 99.9 percent of the time since he’s been here.’’