Cubs’ Theo Epstein will get a new deal – no questions asked
By Jake Misener
Heading into his walk year, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has not yet talked about a new deal with Tom Ricketts. So what’s next?
Ahead of schedule by a year – even two according to some – Epstein has the Cubs in the hunt for a postseason berth in mid-August.
Chicago entered its off-day on Monday in firm control of the second wild card spot in the National League, holding a 3 1/2-game edge over the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants, the only team with a real shot at catching Epstein’s club.
Ahead of the All-Star break last month, the former Boston Red Sox GM spoke with the New York Times, talking about where the Cubs found themselves in mid-July.
"“If somebody came up to me in spring training and said here’s where you’ll be at the end of the first half, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat,” Epstein said."
Under his tenure, the Cubs have compiled a 267-335 record – a far cry from being a contender, let alone a powerhouse. But, to be frank, that doesn’t matter.
This season, Chicago has hope. And something more – a potent group of talented rookies, led by fun-loving skipper Joe Maddon and 26-year-old veteran Anthony Rizzo.
The team’s pitching staff, anchored by Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, has proven to be a legitimate strength as the dog days of summer approach – and the July acquisition of Dan Haren only adds to that strength.
The Cubs have done all this without the help of former top prospect Javier Baez, who is still working out the kinks at Triple-A Iowa in what has quickly become a very nice season for the youngster, C.J. Edwards or Albert Almora.
Sure, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell have done their part to lead Chicago to the third-best record in the National League. But that’s not without growing pains that have been met with determination and grit – trademarks of the Epstein regime.
Now some, like Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, believe Theo could walk after his current deal ends in 2016.
"His contract runs through 2016 at about $4 million per year. One would expect owner Tom Ricketts to re-up soon to avoid a lame-duck status given how Epstein has rebuilt the team to the point where it should contend for many years to come."
Personally, I’d be floored if we hit the Winter Meetings without the two sides having agreed on a new deal – one worth somewhere in the $7 million range annually – a thought that Cafardo seems to have pondered, as well.
"Will Ricketts dangle enough salary to keep him there? Maybe make him as well-paid as Dodgers GM Andrew Friedmanat $7 million per year? Or will Epstein look elsewhere? Like coming home?"
Here’s how the talks will go.
Ricketts: Theo, here is a piece of paper. I want you to write a number on it. I don’t care what it is. In fact, don’t tell me. Just write it down. Take it to Nancy (I assume Ricketts’ secretary is named Nancy) – and she’ll handle the rest.
Epstein has a chance to do something no Cubs executive has done in over a century – bring a World Series championship to the North Side of Chicago.
You don’t walk away from that. You just don’t.
So, I’m sorry Bostonians (yes, I’m talking to you, Cafardo) – Theo is ours. We’re not giving him up and neither will the Cubs or Tom Ricketts.
Deal with it.