Obsessive Cubs GM Watch: Theo Epstein’s Name Keeps Popping Up

Were he legitimately a candidate for the Chicago Cubs’GM vacancy, I doubt you could find more than a handful of people who would say that Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein isn’t the ideal choice.

But is he a legitimate candidate?

Initially, Epstein’s name didn’t surface as a candidate for the Cubs’ GM job for a variety of reasons. He’s already a wildly successful GM with a storied franchise (in his hometown), he’s under contract through 2012, he’s never had anything but the warm and fuzziest relationships in his current gig, and, although Tom Ricketts has indicated an intention to copy Boston’s path to success, few thought that purloining the architect was part of the plan.

Then, earlier this week, his name would come up in passing, on long lists of possible candidates. And then he was discussed a little bit. And then people started speculating. And, by yesterday, there were legitimate discussions about whether Epstein would consider jumping ship to the Cubs.

Among the worthwhile tidbits:

  • Peter Gammons, who remains as plugged into the Red Sox as anyone, says Epstein would probably at least consider the job. “I think he’d have interest [in the Cubs' GM job," Gammons said of Epstein. "I don't know right now if, with a year to go [on his contract], whether he would .… We’re talking about one of the best jobs in baseball …. It’s a great job. Having gone even longer than the Red Sox without winning, if you win in Chicago, win a World Series in the next six or eight years, that city’s yours forever. And that’s not the worst city to have as your own fiefdom.”
  • Buster Olney says the Cubs could very well target Epstein for the front office, but he suggests they do so by offering him a president/director of baseball ops-type position (subscription required). Tom Ricketts has already publicly eschewed the idea of having a “baseball president” between he and the GM (I think Ricketts envisions himself as the “baseball president,” a role in which we’ve little reason so far to believe he cannot succeed). If that were the only way to get Epstein into the organizational fold, though? Who knows.
  • Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe says Epstein isn’t going to be the GM of the Red Sox forever, but thinks he’s likely to pursue a president-level job or a job outside of baseball, rather than become a GM somewhere else. He also believes Epstein wouldn’t consider leaving the Red Sox before the end of the playoffs, and the Cubs won’t want to wait until after the playoffs to interview him. Thus, to him, the discussion is “pointless.” Maybe so, but I doubt the Cubs would have a problem waiting until October or early November to interview Epstein if they legitimately believed they had a shot at him.
  • NESN’s Tony Lee says the Cubs would love to get Epstein but, given his contract, good working relationships, and young family, Epstein is unlikely to leave Boston.
  • Paul Sullivan says even though the Red Sox are unlikely to let Epstein out of his contract with a year remaining, the Cubs are “interested enough to explore the possibility.”
  • Red Sox owner John Henry was tight-lipped, but, of the possibility that Epstein could join the Cubs as president, he had this curious response: “The Cubs have one of the best presidents in baseball. I think this shows how highly regarded Theo is by the media and baseball in general.”

The takeaway? The Cubs would love to have Theo Epstein, but, for all the reasons his name didn’t immediately pop up in “short lists,” he’s very unlikely to leave Boston.

But, let’s be clear about one thing: if it were possible for money to make the difference, Ricketts would break the bank to bring Epstein on board. I have no doubt about that. Hell, I think he’d probably rob a bank or two. Whether the Red Sox would match a famously lucrative offer is uncertain (they do have assistant GM Ben Cherington waiting in the wings), but they certainly wouldn’t let him go without a fight. The Red Sox might not even let Epstein interview for the job, making much of this discussion academic.

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Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

33 responses to “Obsessive Cubs GM Watch: Theo Epstein’s Name Keeps Popping Up”

  1. Fishin Phil

    I think the odds of the Cubs landing Epstein are slightly worse than the odds of me winning the next Power Ball.

    1. TWC

      So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

      1. EQ

        Hey, what about all that one in a million talk?

        1. JulioZuleta


  2. BT

    As to the “warm and fuzzy” relationship with the Red Sox, you are forgetting that Epstein quit for awhile in 2005. He eventually came back, and in the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter, but he was unhappy enough with Lucchino that he quit for 3 months.

  3. hansman1982

    Epstein for President and Friedmann for GM with me for Asst to the Asst GM

    1. MichiganGoat

      I want to be the Official Taster – I’ll make sure all the Old Style is safe to drink.

    2. bacboris

      hansman1982, the first half of your sentence sent me into fantasy-land despite myself. Damn you for whispering illusory sweet nothings about the cubs. Raising such wildly unrealistic hopes for cubs fans should almost be illegal, at the very least its sadistic.

  4. JulioZuleta

    Yeah i guess, we all saw what happened to Stoney for opening his mouth….which looking back on now I’m kinda glad, him and Hawk put me to sleep, if the Sox are struggling, it seems like they go full half innings without commenting.

    1. Glenallen Hill's One Home Run

      I watched a lot of Sox games this summer (my sisters are Sox fans for no reason other than being rebellious) and it’s striking how awful Hawk is the more you listen to him. Like, REALLY bad, guys.

      1. Internet Random

        You need to school them on the evils of the designated-hitter rule.

    2. Internet Random

      Stoney definitely performed best with Harry. Harry just gave him all kinds of great stuff to react to.

      He also did well with Pat Hughes on the radio during the 2003 playoffs.

      1. TWC

        Pat Hughes is awesome. I really think that he would make *me* sound great if I was in the booth with him.

        1. hardtop

          sorry, but no. all you hippies talk too slow and say “man” and “whoa!” far too often to capture the attention of a radio audience. ;)

          1. JulioZuleta

            Whoa, that hurts man

          2. TWC

            Whoa! Heyyyy, man, be cooooool.

  5. Lou

    Why? Epstein and Cashman would take too long to be hired. You want a guy to come in here at season’s end to get their feet wet for at least a month before the true offseason starts. My money’s on Josh Byrnes. Not Rick Hahn. With all the things going on with the Sox, I don’t think Reinsdorf gonna let him go. Though, I wonder if we could get a top executive. Sandy Alderman went to the Mets from the Padres to be GM. I wonder if Shapiro would come here from the Indians.

    1. bacboris

      That’s all well and good Lou except that Byrnes blows by any conventional standard. Nobody would be worse to take up than him, maybe not even Colleti. I’ll grant you hes young and available but there is not one area of the GM job hes excelled at. His trading record is abysmal. Managing payroll? Drafting? Even building up a front office? All of those were sub-par to embarrassing. The diamondbacks would have been better off, never having him in the fold in retrospect. If it is Byrnes, this team will have managed to find a worse GM than Hendry. A real accomplishment I guess.

      1. Lou

        Oh, I totally agree. This is me speculating on WHO the Cubs select not who I THINK the Cubs should select. It’s about timing, fit, current location of other GMs available (New York and Boston), lukewarm reception of Beane, and the turmoil currently plaguing the White Sox. And also Ricketts insistance to get someone with prior experience.

  6. gale

    If we have paid umpires why can’t
    we fine them for bad calls?

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