Breaking: Cubs, Theo Epstein Closing In On Deal


The Chicago Cubs are on the cusp of naming their next general manager, and in all likelihood, their next president of baseball operations. This past week has been filled with Theo Epstein speculation. The speculation began last Tuesday when Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts officially requested permission from the Boston Red Sox to interview their current general manager Theo Epstein. After taking a few days to discuss the request, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino took to the radio last Friday in an interview with a Boston area radio station and the comments made during that interview were believed to be Henry and Lucchino preparing their fan-base for the departure of Epstein.

The departure of Epstein from the Boston Red Sox organization is imminent. According to Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, the Cubs and Epstein essentially have a deal in place and an official announcement is likely coming in the next 24 to 48 hours. The holdup appears to be the Red Sox making a last ditch effort to retain Epstein, as well as the compensation the Cubs will give to the Red Sox.

Epstein’s deal with the Cubs is likely going to give him more power than he had with the Red Sox. Meaning that Epstein could very well end up being the Cubs’ next general manager in addition to having the president of baseball operations label. That would confirm the belief that Crane Kenney has been completely removed from the baseball side of the organization. Giving Epstein more power could very well be the reason why he is on the verge of  joining the Cubs’ organization. It has long been believed that Epstein wanted to have more power, and given the recent shortcomings of the Red Sox, Henry and Lucchino may have been hesitant to hand over more power to Epstein.

Coming to the Cubs, Epstein will be faced with extremely high expectations. Epstein’s track record speaks for itself. Epstein is the guy that has turned the Boston Red Sox into perennial contenders, while breaking the curse of the Bambino in the process. Now, assuming his deal with the Cubs becomes official in the coming days, Epstein will be tasked with trying to break the curse of the billy goat and any other phony curses that are associated to a team that has not won a World Series in 103 years. Epstein’s is going to receive a long-term deal from the Cubs, and I will go as far as to say that the Cubs will appear in the World Series under his regime.

This not going to be an overnight process for Epstein. It is likely still going to take 2 or 3 years before the Cubs are perennial contenders. However, the belief is that Ricketts has assured Epstein that he will have significant resources to use on baseball operations. Meaning Epstein likely has free reign to do as he desires. Whether or not that means that Epstein will push for Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols remains to be seen, but with Epstein in the picture, the Cubs will likely be one of the teams in the running for one of the premier free agent first basemen. That being said, don’t think that Epstein won’t put an emphasis on the farm system. While the Red Sox–under Epstein–have competed financially with the New York Yankees, there have also been several home-grown players that have been crucial under Epstein’s watch. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jonathan Papelbon were all players that were developed during Epstein’s tenure with the Red Sox.

It will be interesting to see what type of compensation the Cubs give the Red Sox. The current consensus is that the Cubs are going to give up something, though, it is not going to be Starlin Castro or any of their top prospects. It is likely that the Cubs may give up two mid-level prospects, or may be give up cash considerations to to the Red Sox.

While the deal is not official yet, it has hard to believe that it will fall through. If the Red Sox brass were intent on retaining Epstein, they would have declined the Cubs’ request and that would have been the end of it. That lack of commitment from Henry or Lucchino is likely what drove Epstein to the Cubs. Once the Epstein deal becomes official, this may very well be the biggest addition the Cubs have ever made throughout the history of their organization.