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Report: Theo Epstein “on the cusp” of leaving Red Sox to accept job with Cubs

Oct 11, 2011, 6:52 PM EDT

Carl Crawford Signs with the Boston Red Sox Getty Images

It’s really happening.

According to Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald, Theo Epstein is “on the cusp” of leaving the Red Sox to accept a job with the Cubs.

The new position is believed “to include powers greater than he has in Boston” and an announcement could be made “within the next 24 to 48 hours.”

It isn’t quite a done deal yet, though, as the Red Sox still hope to retain Epstein and would seek compensation if he decides to accept the job with Chicago. One source with knowledge of the negotiations tells Buckley that the Red Sox would want “something real” in return.

If Epstein does indeed take the Cubs’ job, most expect Red Sox senior vice president and assistant GM Ben Cherington will take over in Boston. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: Alex Speier of quotes a source “familiar with the matter” as saying the Herald report is “not accurate.” Regardless, Speier writes that resolution is nearing and that the possibility that Epstein could leave the Red Sox is very real.

UPDATE II:  David Kaplan of reports that the Cubs won’t give up their top major league players as compensation for Epstein. Compensation will happen, Kaplan’s source tells him, but it will likely be minor league talent at best.

  1. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Oct 11, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    Mass exodus………….

    This will hurt their off-season moves with no coach or GM in place.

    • oldpaddy - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:33 PM

      Why? Does boy Theo take the money with him?
      Most players play for the money, not the GM or manager.

      • thefalcon123 - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:38 PM

        The Cubs have typically been first or second in the NL in payroll for a while now. They will spending plenty of money.

      • paperlions - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:16 PM

        Yeah, it would suck it they started to spend it smartly…even semi-smartly.

  2. b7p19 - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    Wow, good day to be a Cubs fan.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:13 PM

      Are you sure? Be careful what you wish for.

      • fanoredsox - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:18 PM

        Even as a Sox fan I believe his legend is bigger than he is!

      • Lukehart80 - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:29 PM

        Have you seen the work done by Cubs’ management lately? Even if Theo is only half of what he’s said to be, he’ll be a huge upgrade.

    • marshmallowsnake - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:35 PM

      If you like over-priced contracts on badly performing free agents, then yeah, great day to be a cubs fan.

      • itsmekirill - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:06 PM

        Regardless of how much of it was his fault, Epstein has managed to miss the playoffs two years in a row with the #2 payroll in the league.

      • tacklemeelmo - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:29 PM

        “If you like over-priced contracts on badly performing free agents, then yeah, you’ve been a Cubs fan for the last 10 years.”

        Fixed that for you.

      • jdd428 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:21 AM

        Oh dear, the Sawx missed the playoffs for two straight years. Let’s see, how many other teams have missed the playoffs two years in a row…. Get this though your skulls: making the playoffs is not an entitlement. While you may have missed two years, you’ve also won TWO freakin’ titles in the past eight seasons. Most fan bases would be thrilled with that. But not Beantown – SPOILED BRATS.

      • marshmallowsnake - Oct 12, 2011 at 6:28 PM

        tacklemeelmo – true enough…they got their man then :)

    • bigharold - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:05 PM

      Ask the Nation about Rentiria, Drew, Logo, Lackey, and Crawford. Not to mention Penny, Smoltz, Gagne and Cameron. You might have a different opinion.

      • jdd428 - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:31 PM

        Then ask the Nation how many championships they’ve won in his tenure. Spoiled brats.

      • aceshigh11 - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:43 PM

        It’s not about being spoiled.

        It’s about knowing who to credit for what. As I said below, I appreciate Theo’s efforts…2004 and 2007 speak for themselves…

        …however, it wasn’t a one-person effort, and Theo has flushed MILLIONS down the toilet in the last eight years.

      • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:09 AM

        Ask the Nation about Schilling, Ortiz, Pedroia, Lester, Buchholz, Papelbon, Youkilis, Gonzalez, Beltre, Victor Martinez, Bay, Bard, Okajima, Roberts, Orlando Cabrera, Foulke, and that’s honestly just off the top of my head.

        Ask the Nation about Crawford after he’s been here more than a year. And ask the Nation about Drew while they look at what he’s actually done (been a very good all-around player who misses time every year) and what he was actually paid (the salary of… a very good all-around player who misses time every year).

        Has Theo overpaid in Free Agency? Yes. Even when you account for the fact that all players who reach FA are overpaid and entering their decline phase, Theo’s probably done worse than your average GM. But most good teams use FA as little as possible, and Theo’s been excellent at every other method of aquiring talent.

      • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:28 AM

        Forgot: Mueller, Millar, Arroyo, Williamson, and (of course!) Ellsbury.

  3. thefalcon123 - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Pfffffffffft. What makes the Cubs think that this hot shot GM can turn a perennial disappointment into a World Series Champion? When has Epstein ever accomplished anything like that?

    As a Cardinals fan, I am deeply disturbed by these developments.

    • marshmallowsnake - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:46 PM

      The Cubs need to hire a Shaman as their next GM. Unless they do, then you have nothing to worry about.

  4. skit11 - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    yea i guess we will let you have him but you will give us your ace picture what up with that lmao

    • marshmallowsnake - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:47 PM

      What good is a picture going to do?

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:24 PM

        Source of inspiration in the club house: “See guys, this is what an Ace looks like, not that we’re getting that anytime soon…”

      • marshmallowsnake - Oct 12, 2011 at 6:32 PM

        That is perfect!

  5. granted42 - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    I’m sure the Cubs will be willing to let Carlos Z. go in exchange for Theo E. Don’t the Red Sox need starting pitching?

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:22 PM

      Red Sox pretty much need a NEW team, especially when it comes to pitching. I can accept Papelbaum blowing the team’s playoff chances with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but I cannot accept Lackey, Beckett, and Lester blowing the team’s playoff chances almost every time they pitched in September, not to mention Bard blowing so many chances. Two words actually summarize all you need to know about these Red Sox: over rated!

      • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:11 AM

        That’s one word. And if you want to get rid of Beckett and Lester, than MAN am I glad you’re not running the team.

      • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:25 AM

        Rule 63 of the Internet: if you correct someone’s grammar, you will make a mistake of your own.

      • jdd428 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:25 AM

        Did you intentionally get your closer’s name wrong or are you one of those fans?!?

  6. Amadeus - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    What a genius. Signed the inept Carl Crawford for 143 mil, Lackey for millions, pissed away the bank and the Cubs want him? They deserve each other. Both are losers.

  7. diehardcubbiefan4life - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:18 PM


  8. steve7921 - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    I am sure the compensation to the Red Sox will be that the Cubs have to take Lackey along with Theo!

    • mcsnide - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:28 PM

      Or Crawford. As lousy as Lackey has been, at least they’ve only got 3 more years of him. Crawford’s going to be drawing huge paychecks to suck for 6 more years.

  9. JBerardi - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    UPDATE: Alex Speier of quotes a source “familiar with the matter” as saying the Herald report is “not accurate.” Regardless, Speier writes that resolution is nearing and that the possibility that Epstein could leave the Red Sox is very real.

    Alex Speier is the guy I’d trust above all others when it comes to Red Sox beat writers.

  10. aceshigh11 - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    I appreciate what Theo’s done for the Red Sox, but, as mentioned above, his legend doesn’t stand up to total scrutiny.

    He did acquire David Ortiz and Curt Schilling, and the Sox sure as hell don’t win in 2004 or 2007 without those two.

    HOWEVER, he wasn’t responsible for getting Manny Ramirez, and he had left the team when the Hanley Ramirez-for-Beckett-and-Lowell trade was made.

    The Sox DEFINITELY don’t win in 2007 without those two.

    I’d say he’s botched more key FA acquisitions than not over the years.

  11. j0esixpack - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    As a Red Sox fan I pretty much root for the Cubs very year. Although Theo’s not as good a GM as everyone thinks he is I’d wish him and the Cubs the best of luck if he leaves Boston.

  12. oldpaddy - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    I just want it to be noted in the record that Dan Duquette built just over 50% of the ’04 team. Ramirez, Varitek, Lowe, Pedro, Damon and many others were from his tenor. Just putting it out there.

    • aceshigh11 - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:24 PM

      That’s exactly what I was saying. Epstein’s gotten all the glory, but ’04 was as much about Duquette.

      • Kevin S. - Oct 11, 2011 at 11:09 PM

        And he only got Schilling because Colangelo got into a pissing match with Steinbrenner. The Yankees were offering quite a bit more than Casey Fossum.

    • chrisny3 - Oct 11, 2011 at 11:54 PM

      Yeah, but it seems over 75% of the core of the 2008 Phillies was acquired by Ed Wade. And he’s probably one of the worst GMs in all of baseball. And who put together the core of the Yankees who won in 1998-2000? Watson and Michaels.

      So I think the real mark of a superior GM is not just acquiring good players, but knowing how to put them together in an effective winning mix, plugging up weaknesses and rounding out rotations, bullpens and benches.

      If you give Gillick credit for the 2008 Phillies, and Cashman any credit for the 1998 Yankees, you have to give Epstein credit for the 2004 Red Sox (even more so than Cashman since Epstein was usually outspent significantly by his biggest division rival).

      If the Phillies had kept Wade, I don’t think they win in 2008. Same goes for the Red Sox — if they had kept Duquette, I doubt they win in 2004.

      So give credit where it’s due in these instances — Theo and Gillick.

      I think Epstein is still one of the top 3-4 GMs in the game, along with Freidman and Daniels. I’m glad for the Cubs and their fans. They are getting a highly competent GM who should build a more competitive team in time. It won’t happen overnight. But eventually I think Epstein will succeed.

    • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:23 AM

      Lowe was terrible in ’04, Damon was never as good as his reputation, and Pedro had a sub-par year.

      I’ll give you that Duquette built more of that team than he gets credit for, and that ’07 was much more Theo’s brainchild, but I think “over 50%” is a stretch. Ortiz, Schilling, Mueller, Millar, Foulke, and Arroyo were all Theo, plus great in-season pickups Cabrera and Williamson (and the well-timed greatness of Dave Roberts).

  13. pastortodd78 - Oct 11, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Ok Boston, who do you want? Alfonso? Carlos Z? Both? They are yours, cubs fans worldwide will even come help them pack and move!

  14. hansgruber - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    I doubt Theo would be as successful with the Cubs as he was with the Red Sox. Consider the ultimate eraser of GM mistakes: MONEY. The Yankees can sign almost anyone they want, knowing that if they end up with a bad contract, they can eat it and try again with someone else. The Red Sox can do the same thing, but not to the same extent. The Cubs have less margin for error than the Red Sox.

    As angry as the Cubs are about Alfonso and Carlos Z., it’s worth mentioning that Epstein signed Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey, J.D. Drew, and Carl Crawford.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    • chrisny3 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:33 AM

      I think he’ll improve the Cubs regardless. It may just take longer. His inclination seems to be building through the farm system. Wasn’t that what his tiff with Luchino was over in their early days with the Red Sox? But I think because of the pressures of being significantly outspent by a division rival who was reloading big time almost every year, the Red Sox felt the need to respond quickly and in kind, thereby making risky free agent signings. Epstein won’t have that same pressure in the NL Central.

    • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:15 AM

      Instead of having $40M less than his division rival, he’ll have $20M more. He’ll be fine, money-wise.

  15. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    The end of another era in Red Sox history, and one that definitely ranks pretty highly

  16. paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    You guys are putting way too much on one guy that was just one piece in an organization that got opinions from many people and used consensus to make decisions. What he will bring is a good decision making process and the proper emphasis on investing in the draft and player development….but, like all GMs, his record will only be as good as the people he hires for scouting, analysis, and decision making.

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