We have entered the month of the October, and it is likely that Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts is dissecting every phaset of his candidate list before scheduling interviews with the prospective candidates. While Ricketts intends to keep the search for the Cubs’ next general manager secretive, it is no secret who Ricketts has at the top of his list. With Brian Cashman assured of returning to the Yankees next season, and Andrew Friedman likely remaining with the Rays after their post-season run concludes, Ricketts has zeroed in on current Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
Depending on what newspaper you read or reporter you follow on twitter, you probably think one of two things in regards to the possibility of Epstein coming to the Cubs. One belief is that Epstein is indeed interested in the Cubs general managerial position, however, that interest is only a negotiating ploy to force the Red Sox into A) sweetening his current deal and B) giving him more power within the organization. However, the other belief–that has gained steam within the past week–is that Epstein is interested in joining the Cubs organization and the Red Sox would give permission to Ricketts to interview Epstein which would lead to current Red Sox general manager becoming the next Cubs’ general manager.
Perhaps, baseball columnist Joel Sherman of the New York Post added the largest amount of fuel to the Epstein rumor when he tweeted this message yesterday afternoon:
"I am shocked, but in last 36 hrs every exec talk to says believe #Redsox will give permission and Theo will go to #Cubs to be GM"
The Red Sox fall-out has been an interesting watch for baseball fans since the Red Sox choked away their Wild Card lead to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. On Friday, Red Sox owner John Henry was the one who decided to fire manager Terry Francona and Epstein had little say in that decision. Now the question is if Henry wants a complete make-over of the Red Sox front office and decides to let Epstein leave the organization to come to the Cubs. Those close to the Red Sox general manager believe that Epstein is ready to “embrace the challenge” of being the general manager of the Cubs, a position that Epstein has always admired. Though, there also seems to be a belief circling among some national reporters that Epstein does not want to leave the Red Sox organization on such a low note, and wants to be in charge of the righting the ship. However, there have been several reports that surfaced over the past couple of days that suggests that Henry may take some power away from Epstein when it comes to operating the baseball side of the organization. That may be the opening that Ricketts needs in order to sway Epstein towards the Cubs’ organization and away from the Red Sox.
There seems to be two things that Epstein is looking for in his next contract–whether that be with the Red or another team like the Cubs–and they are “mo money, mo money, and mo money” as well having additional power in the baseball operations of an organization. It is no secret that Ricketts has deep pockets–spending over $12 million on this past year’s draft–and if the opportunity exists for Ricketts to lure Epstein away from the Red Sox organization, the Cubs owner will likely be more than willing to meet the asking price of Epstein. As for power within the organization, Epstein would be the front-man for the baseball operations of the Cubs’ organization. Ricketts has essentially removed team president Crane Kenney from the baseball operations side of the organization, meaning Epstein would report directly to Ricketts.
A decision on whether Epstein will be with the Red Sox or Cubs next season will likely come within the next week. Epstein has an option in his contract that must be picked up by Red Sox owner John Hendry by October 8th, or else Epstein would no longer need permission from the Red Sox to interview for the Cubs general manager position. Even if the option is picked up that would necessarily end the Cubs’ pursuit of Epstein, though, that may lessen their chances of landing the Red Sox mastermind.