It’s time to usher in “Year One” for the 3rd straight year under the Ricketts Regime as the Cubs lure GM Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox. While it still isn’t official, all sources indicate that a deal will be announced any second now. “Year One” in 2010 was the 1st full season where the Ricketts Family actually owned the Cubs. “Year One” in 2011 was the first full season with new Manager Mike Quade at the helm. And “Year One” in 2012 will be the 1st full year in which Theo Epstein will be the Cubs GM. Ah — gotta love to be able to spin things anyway you want to…
Theo will be the Cubs new General Manager and at the end of the day, will likely also serve as the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations (hopefully that title signals the end of Crane Kenney’s role as “president” as he quietly glided around the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field taking money from the organization and doing absolutely nothing positive in the role; but I digress). Tom Ricketts identified Theo Epstein as the man that he wanted to get and it looks like he is going to turn over the keys to the car to the 37-year old Boston native.
There are certainly a lot of details to be ironed out. Here’s what we know:
Deal Terms — 5 Years, $15 million. The Cubs will also pay Theo $3.5 million to cover the conclusion bonus that Theo would have earned if he served out his term as Red Sox GM through the 2012 MLB season.
The Cubs and Red Sox are also negotiating compensation to be paid to the Red Sox for allowing the Cubs to pluck Theo from the Red Sox organization since he still had 1-year left on his deal. While the Red Sox have allegedly asked for a high level prospect, it appears that MLB and the Cubs have issues with that request. In the end, the Cubs will probably have to pay some cash to the Red Sox to get the deal done.
The Red Sox are also likely to impose a restriction on whom Theo can “recruit” from the Red Sox organization to bring to the Cubs. Theo may have to obtain the Red Sox consent before he can hire someone else away.
And while the deal still could potentially fall through IF the two sides can’t agree on compensation or some of these ancillary issues, I can’t imagine Theo going back to Boston now. And since the Red Sox brass – John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino – did not prevent Theo from speaking with the Cubs as was within their right – it’s pretty clear that they were primed and ready to part ways with the young GM despite the success that he brought to the organization.
Here’s a quick capsule of Theo’s time in Boston — Theo took over the Red Sox after the conclusion of the 2002 MLB season as an up-and-coming 28-year old GM. In his 1st year behind the helms, the Red Sox took the Yankees to the brink of elimination in Game 7 of the ALCS before blowing an 8th inning lead which allowed the Yankees to keep the Red Sox out of the World Series and prolong their 86-year championship drought. The next year, however, Epstein and the Red Sox made baseball history by coming back from a 3-0 hole against the Yankees in the ALCS and advancing to the World Series for the 1st time since 1986. A 4-0 sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals brought that elusive title to Beantown. The Red Sox won another World Series under Theo in 2007 and the team advanced to the post-season in 6 of his 9 seasons in Boston. He is a proven winner and now takes on the challenge to break the Cubs 100+ year championship drought. If he does that, we will go down as one of the greatest GM’s of all time in any professional sport.
Good work Tom – after bumbling around for 2 years, you really seem to have your act together now. My biggest wish was for you to actually fire Jim Hendry even though he still has 1 year left on his deal. When you announced that in August, I started to have some faith again. Now you’re truly showing that you want to win and that you’re going to do whatever it takes to bring a championship to the north side. While there are never any guarantees, at least you are putting yourself in a position to succeed with this hire. Congrats!