It appears the Cubs have their man.
Following days of intense speculation, reports are that Theo Epstein, after nine years and a pair of World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox, has agreed on a 5-year deal worth nearly $20 million to run the baseball operations on the North Side.
It's still unclear what Epstein's exact title will be with the Cubs, but it's assumed it will be above the executive vice president/general manager title he held with the Red Sox. Also unclear is what kind of compensation the Cubs will have to give Boston in return for hiring Epstein. Will it be minor leaguers? Cash? A combination of the two?
The Cubs declined to comment for this story.
Epstein watched the Red Sox miss the playoffs following a record collapse, going 7-20 in September and finishing at 90-72. The team failed to win consecutive games in September.
Through Sept. 3, the Red Sox held a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL wild card. The teams were tied in the standings going into the final day of the regular season. The Red Sox lost to Baltimore 4-3 a few minutes before the Rays beat the New York Yankees 8-7 in 12 innings to gain the playoff spot.
“This is one for the ages, isn't it?” Epstein said moments after the Rays won.
Epstein will be leaving one demanding fan base that he finally soothed with a pair of championships to one that has been waiting over 100 years to win a World Series.
A little added pressure?
Former Cubs general manager Dallas Green, architect of the 1984 team that came so close to a World Series appearance, doesn't think so.
“The fans have been disappointed because they haven't been able to go where they want to go, but there's no more pressure there than there is anywhere else you go,” Green told the Daily Herald. “As a general manager, you put pressure on yourself because you want to be successful, and obviously the guy you're bringing in has been fairly successful. That's a pretty good start.”
Lost amid the flurry of Theomania is how it will affect current Cubs manager Mike Quade.
Quade, who just returned from some time away from it all, doesn't know what to expect once the new regime takes over. But as usual, the former Prospect High School star athlete is taking a low-key approach to the apparent hiring of Theo Epstein by the Cubs.
“I probably lost way more sleep during the season trying to solve problems and figuring things out than I have with the current search and what may or may not happen. That's a fact,” Quade said Wednesday on “Power Alley” on MLB Network Radio. “I've been doing this a long time; we'll see how it plays out. It's a huge decision for the organization general manager-wise and obviously they have their sights on one of the best in the business.”
Much like former GM Jim Hendry with the Cubs, Epstein has been criticized for giving long-term, costly contracts to free agents. In Boston's case it was deals to J.D. Drew, John Lackey and Carl Crawford, none of whom came close to meeting expectations.
“Unfortunately, a lot of his background has been his ability to buy players,” Green said. “Whether ownership is going to go along with that … they obviously are because they hired him.
“He's done a wonderful job in Boston, but he's had kind of a free rein, and rightfully so. His reputation is he's very aggressive and willing to move and do things, and that's been obvious in his handling of the Boston Red Sox.”
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts reportedly has been impressed with the Red Sox model and how they overhauled Fenway Park and increased revenue streams by adding seats above the Green Monster in left field and other parts of the stadium. Fenway is the only park in the majors older than Wrigley Field.
“Theo will have some new thoughts and new ideas about that,” Green said.
Ÿ Associated Press contributed to this report. ESPN.com's Buster Olney was the first to report details of a $20 million deal between Epstein and the Cubs.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.