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Report: Theo Epstein agrees to a five-year deal with the Cubs

Oct 12, 2011, 8:56 AM EDT

Theo Epstein

John Dennis of WEEI just reported that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has agreed with the Cubs on a five-year deal worth more than $15 million. This is a huge moment for the Cubs.  Franchise-altering.

The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of this week. The Cubs and Red Sox still have to talk about compensation for letting Epstein go when he still had a year on his deal.  As was reported last night, however, compensation is not expected to be in the form of a top major league player. Most likely it’s a minor leaguer.

The assumption is that Epstein will be both team president and general manager.  That first title means very different things on different teams, so it’s not quite clear how much responsibility he’ll have or who else he’ll have to answer to at 1060 West Addison.  But given that the Cubs’ issues are primarily roster issues, you figure that Epstein will be rolling up his sleeves and getting to work on that as soon as he hits Chicago.

  1. kopy - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Let the Old Style flow like wine today!

    • marshmallowsnake - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      First signing…John Lackey for $82.5 Million….oh, wait….

  2. bobwsc - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    at least Theo isn’t the one negotiating on behalf of the Sox for the player-to-be-named. based on his recent track record, he’d ask for Soriano or Zambrano…or both. note to Cubs fans: expect Theo to give up the farm for Lackey and Crawford once the wheeling and dealing starts. maybe Jenks too.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      How about Theo and Lackey for no compensation?

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        Sorry pellypell. I should have read your comment first before I made the above post.

    • pellypell - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      No worries, it bears repeating. About to register the domain “” and start a grass roots campaign.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        Have fun with it.

    • klbader - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:47 AM

      I don’t remember people being too critical of either the Lackey or Crawford acquisitions when they happened. It is easy to criticize now. But if Crawford has a huge season next year, then it was a great deal again. I don’t know that Lackey will ever recapture his pre-Sox form, but at the time, the Lackey signing seemed like a good deal.

      • acemccracken - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM

        No, you are wrong. $16m a year for a pitcher with a career era over 4 is NEVER a good signing.

      • bobinnh85 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:01 PM

        Amen to that, I’m glad to see somebody agrees with me, all we heard this past winter was what a powerful team we would have this year. The Sox were the pick to go all the way, good insight klbader.

      • bigharold - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:42 PM

        “But if Crawford has a huge season next year, then it was a great deal again.”

        And, if comes back with another year like this the Crawford signing will make the Chone Figgins signing look like a bargin.

  3. pellypell - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    In regards to compensation, how about instead of the Sox getting a player in return, the Cubs are forced to take Lackey and his contract?

    • shaggylocks - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:13 AM

      Because that’s when Lackey finds his mojo and becomes a killer on the mound. You know it’d happen, too.

      • pellypell - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:16 AM

        The only thing this guy is killing is a mound of fried chicken and biscuits.

      • CJ - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:50 AM

        you forgot the 6 pack.

  4. Francisco (FC) - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    This winter will be very interesting.

  5. frankvzappa - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Good riddance…now we can try to hire a GM that will help us win, instead of forcing us to try to win in spite of him. Of course, he has handicapped the team for the next 5 years with Lackey and Crawford. Maybe the cubs secretly hired him a couple years ago and they are just now making the hire public now that the damage has been done to the Red Sox? I would rather see him take Lackey with him, though, because Crawford could easily have a bounce-back year.

    • kopy - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      Yup, Epstein has worked for the Cubs for years. Make sure you check your brake lines before you drive home from work today, and check your closet before you go to bed. Everybody is out to get you!

      East Coasters are much more cynical than I thought if they honestly don’t think Epstein tried his hardest and did a pretty good job.

      • Victor's Secret - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:19 AM

        He did an amazing job over the last decade. I will always be thankful for 2004 + 2007. I think most people are disappointed he’s leaving and not particularly excited about the mammoth contracts he’s leaving us with, but ultimately wish him well with the Cubs and are curious to see how he’ll do.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:20 AM

        While I won’t go as far as frank and say that Epstein purposely did this, it does kinda suck for Red Sox fans that he is leaving the team with those awful Lackey, Beckett and Crawford contracts. Almost feels like when a college coach leaves, then the school gets hit with the penalties for his misdoings.

        That said, maybe the Red Sox will do better next year without all the hype and expectations. There’s still a lot of talent there and maybe with a change in culture they will do better without there being 90% of the prognosticators picking them to win the World Series.

      • kopy - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        There’s also hope for all 3 of those players mentioned to turn it around. Obviously it looks like the pitchers could use a little exercise and discipline, and a new regime might give them that. Crawford might always be overpaid, but I think he will definitely perform better than he did this past year.

      • nolanwiffle - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:35 AM

        How can Crawford’s 7-year deal be deemed “awful” after one season?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:01 AM

        How can Crawford’s 7-year deal be called anything but awful? If you want to say he is going to improve, then OK, that’s your choice. I’ll go with the facts..and the facts are that year 1 was a complete disaster. If you want to hope that he gets better, then OK. I’ll look at year 1 and say uh-oh.

      • paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        If you didn’t think the Lackey, Beckett, or Crawford contracts were horrible at the time….then it is disingenuous to bring it up now (and it isn’t like Theo was a dictator with the power to make such decisions on his own). The Lackey and Beckett contracts were considered good deals for Boston at the time….and although the Crawford contract is high, unless its financial magnitude prevents them from acquiring other players….the deal isn’t bad for them at all…he isn’t dead weight on the roster and should bounce back just fine….it isn’t like they signed a one-trick, aging 1B to a 5 yr $125M extension.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

        paper, the Lackey deal was widely panned as being too much money for a guy who was vastly overrated. I know many Red Sox fans who called it a signing as bad as the AJ Burnett signing..and this was the time it happened. The Beckett extension was also very widely panned, especially since Beckett started the year injured. He bounced back this year, so it isn’t as terrible as it would have been had he sucked again this year, but don’t try to make the Beckett extension out to be more than it was.

        Crawford was hailed as a good deal, and he sucked year 1. Maybe he turns it around and maybe he doesn’t. Still, I’m willing to bet if you asked Theo if he would want to take Beckett, Lackey and Crawford with him to Chicago, his answer would be No, No, and No.

      • paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:43 AM

        Do a search Chris, there are dozens of “best signings” articles that list lackey at or near the top.

      • marshmallowsnake - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        Kopy, I think you are right…but I think he and his staff have to do some work on their evaluation process.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        paper, the same article written by people who picked the Red Sox to win the World Series this year? LOL. Seriously, I know that many Red Sox fans HATED the Lackey signing. I don’t know a single Red Sox fans who like Lackey and his 4+ career ERA. He didn’t have the prerequisite one good year that even AJ Burnett had. You want to make the case for Crawford, OK, I’ll give you him. That was a great signing at the time, and it fizzled. Shit, if Crawford is only 20-30 points below his career averages instead of 38/44/36/80, we are probably looking at a Red Sox-Rangers ALCS right now. Nobody I read or nobody I know expected him to suck so bad this season. I’m no fan of the stat, but it is telling that his WAR(b-ref) went from 6.1 in 2010…to ZERO POINT ZERO in 2011. Ouch.

      • jdd428 - Oct 12, 2011 at 3:50 PM

        Chris, I guarantee you Theo would say yes to taking Crawford with him to the Northside in a heartbeat. You can’t judge him or his contract based on ONE SEASON.

        Yes Crawford’s was a disappointment, but it was also an anomaly. Theo would probably take Beckett too. Lackey, not so much. But those other two are good players, 2011 results notwithstanding.

    • bravesman1983 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:33 AM

      Boy, oh boy . . . this brand of Red Sox fan is just insufferable.

      • paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:38 AM

        They have other brands?

    • cintiphil - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:33 AM

      You must be some kind of fool. For the guy who brought a team 2 W-S victories in 3 years, after a drought for this team of almost 100 years, it hardly seems appropriate to say “Good riddance”. Who is going to do better than Theo?

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      Good riddance? So the (2) Championships weren’t productive enough?

      • jeffro33 - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        I give Theo a ton of respect for the 2 WS titles Boston won while he was GM…

        However, I think it is pretty fair to say that any one of us making comments here could do just as well as Theo has done over the last couple of years given the resources that he has to work with…

        Aside from overseeing a scouting department perhaps…

  6. yankeesfanlen - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Ooooooh, and Brian wanted this job SO BAD!

  7. normb11 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I love sports fans. Person X is great when he’s yours, but when he’s gone, GOOD RIDDANCE!

  8. stackers1 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    How bad must it have been for Theo to say, “Yeah – I need to leave here & go to a winning organization like the Cubs.” He should do ok in Chicago, but I think he has all the jewerly he’s going to get.

    • paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:22 AM

      Sometimes, the price is just too high…..if you are miserable working somewhere, how much they pay you really doesn’t matter (unless you are ignorant enough to value money over happiness).

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:25 AM

      If the Cubs win a World Series under his tenure, you can bet he’ll get a title like: Shaman or Curse-breaker, to go along with that of GM.

      • bravesman1983 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:37 AM

        Yeah, Chicago is a town that still treats Mike Ditka and the 1985 Bears like royalty . . . and that franchise didn’t carry nearly as long a history of failure and ineptitude as the Cubs currently lug around. Bring them a championship, and you’ll be worshipped forever by a majority of fans.

  9. aceshigh11 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:27 AM


    Well good luck to him…if he gets the Cubs a World Series, this guy will be on a fast-track to Cooperstown.

    Probably not a bad idea to flush the whole Sox system out although I’d rather have shitcanned a bunch of players rather than Terry Francona.

    Too bad holding awful players with terrible contracts accountable is hardly ever an option.

  10. antlerclaws - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    So many Red Sox fans loved the Crawford and Lackey contracts when they were first announced, then they had bad years and everyone (well, not everyone) was ready to lynch Epstein. It’s always a roll of the dice, and I, and just about everyone else, thought he made some really good deals. Just because they didn’t pan out this season doesn’t mean they weren’t good deals at the time, and Epstein couldn’t go out onto the field and actually play for them; the players had to do that themselves. He did his part; the players didn’t.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:04 AM

      I think you will be hard-pressed to find many Red Sox fans who liked the Lackey contract. Yeah, the Crawford was hailed. But I don’t think it would be hindsight to say that many Red Sox fans thought Lackey was overrated, overpaid and more than once called the next AJ Burnett.

    • acheron2112 - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:00 AM

      I don’t remember anybody who “loved” the Lackey signing at the time.

      As far as Crawford, I think the general consensus was that it was an overly large contract, but you’re right that I don’t think anyone was concerned about the start of it, just the end.

  11. paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    As a Cardinal fan, I’m a lot more concerned about the Cubs now than I have been for a while….with Hendry in there, I was pretty confident he’d find a way to screw things up….because he was horrible at determining player value and the Cubs farm system has been horrendous for a very long time because they essentially ignore it (that or they have absolutely no idea how to scout, draft, and develop talent). I didn’t want them to change a thing.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      Paper: I am right there with you on this one. That is two days in a row. Wow.
      Your NewCastle is on it’s way!

    • Alex K - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      Development is their problem. Players don’t tend to get better after they enter the system.

      • paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:50 AM

        They’ve also made some extremely questionable picks recently….don’t remember his name, but they took some pitcher in the top 10 that no other team or scout even thought was worth a sandwich-round pick….and he since has not proven the cubs right…that kind of error in judgement is huge.

        ….and not for nothing, the difference between the Cardinal system now, and what it was like when Jocketty was in charge of it is night and day….even with trading away a lot of talent to pick up vets at or after the trade deadline, they have guys at all levels that are exciting prospects, many of which seemed come out of no where with huge leaps in development/approach….that stuff just did not happen before.

  12. mox19380 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    I’m surprised to hear the vitriol coming from Bo-sox fans as if this guy had never done anything to improve Boston in his time.

  13. cintiphil - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    If The cubs go to the playoffs and eventually win the series, then I would vote Epstein the GM of all time. That would probably be the most difficult feat in MLB since he brought a winner to Boston after 85 years or so. Doing it for two poor teams in a decade is unthinkable.

    • schlom - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:59 AM

      Yes, it took a real visionary to jump the Red Sox payroll from around $100m a season to $130m – not many GM’s would have been smart enough to do that.

      • cintiphil - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:20 AM

        Evidently they were not. When the Yawkey’s owned the team, no matter what they spent did nothing. It is how you spend the money, not how much. Look at this years Yanks and Phills. Out of the playoff’s. You are right that money is not everything, however Theo made it work. He was THE MOST SUCCESSFUL GM IN Redsox history. It is not only the money, but how it was all put together. The last owner’s refusal to may the money for a great player was for Carlton, who brought how many wins to the Phills? He went to Philly when Auggie Busch refused to pay 1 mil for him, and so he was traded. Bad use of money.

  14. Brian Donohue - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    “Theo” means “God” (in Greek). So Chicagoans, kneel and make sacrifice to your new God. If this Theo is like all those Gods of ancient Greece, there will be plenty of roasted flesh needed to appease Him.

  15. ricofoy - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    The Cubs are still going to suck. And Theodore, the ventriloquist dummy, will be exposed as a fraud.

  16. cur68 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    Epstein did what they said couldn’t be done in Boston; get a championship. Not once, but twice. I got the impression that this season’s roster recipe was much like the recipe that won it all back when, just more of it. The old self medication adage/curse; if a little works then a lot REALLY works.

    I love the idea of Epstein in Chicago.

    Lets see if Theo Epstein is who he thinks he is; the guy with the recipe….if he can get them to win, then he is a god. An Old Testament, miracle-working, blind-man-seeing god. Not only am I looking forward to next season now, but the fodder for the upcoming off season has just kicked it up a notch.

  17. pandebailey - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    Wow, I’ve been a Red Sox fan since the ’60’s, but these comments show why Theo is happy to leave and go work for the Cubs. Two Series titles and you still turn on the guy? Classy fans, Boston.
    Note: EVERY single MLB team has big contracts they wish they didn’t have – its part of baseball. And who would have guessed that .296 lifetime hitter Carl Crawford would come to Fenway and choke as soon as he got off the plane?

    • cintiphil - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:23 AM

      Classy fans and Boston should never be used in the same sentence. I know because I lived there for many years. They are all nuts, because they think they have great baseball teams and a great ballpark. Neither is true. This move is just going to make them big losers again.

      • homelanddefense - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM

        wtf are you talking about? They have had great baseball teams, they have 7 world series titles. And Fenway is a great park if you love baseball and history.

        I wont argue that a lot of Boston fans can be d bags (but its not like that is specific to Boston). Im sorry that you hated your time in Boston…..

      • mgp1219 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM

        Amen to that!

  18. schlom - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    He has to be an improvement on Hendry – who wouldn’t be? – but his overall track record as GM has certainly been hit and miss. He made some unbelievably good moves when he first got the job – the David Ortiz signing and Curt Schilling trade laid the foundation for their two titles. The Red Sox also drafted very well early in his tenure. However he’s been awful at free agent signings as the Crawford and Lackey deals are two of the worst contracts in baseball. Those last two deals would make me nervous as a Cubs fan as you know that he’s going to have plenty of money to play with.

  19. xpensivewinos - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    The Red Sox will be just fine.

  20. mplsjoe - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:25 AM


  21. shawnuel - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    I’ve got two words for Bosox fans critical of the Beckett and Crawford contracts: Jason Werth

  22. premiumpit - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    The stinking Sox will go back to being a shitty team. What else is new. They have always sucked. Wow they won two championships in recent years. It only took them close to 100 years lololololololol.

  23. joshshaine - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    Thank you, Theo, for a bunch of fun years and the most success this franchise has known since before the League of Nations.

    2004 and 2007 will forever keep you in this fan’s thoughts and memories. I hope you help to bring relief to the Cubbies’ fans as well.

    I will wonder if, with a slightly different twist and slightly more successful season, you might have stayed, but I doubt it – the challenge of the Cubs and 1908 had to be more than you could resist.

    The lingering question for me is… who’s next? Indians? Nationals?

    Whichever, good luck with the Cubs!

  24. mgp1219 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Will Theo be bringing Carmine with him, or are the redsox keeping her?

  25. cba456 - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    As a red sox fan, I’m thankful for all he did, but i’m not too upset to see him go. And I understand Epstein wanting to leave – I need a new job every 5-7 years too. But the organization they (Epstein and the ownership group) built is good, and can weather the loss of one guy. They’ve had lots of high profile departures from the front office, and still kept on winning. I’m sure Cherrington will be fine. The interesting question to me will be how many people Theo takes with him. It will tell us (1) how much continuity remains in the front office and (2) how much the front office people believe in him vs how much they believe in the management philosophy of the ownership.

    Also – kind of interesting that the Red Sox let him out of the last year of his contract. I understand not wanting a guy who doesn’t want to be there calling the shots, but if a player signed to a team-friendly contract wanted to opt out of his contract early, there would be no way the team would let him. And he would be crucified by the media and fans. Another example of, despite how much money players get, all the power lies with management.

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