Obsessive Cubs GM Watch: Source Says There’s a 50/50 Chance Theo Epstein Leaves Boston

Another day, another set of rumors and news from the Theo Epstein front. Oh to be a fly on the wall…

  • ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes quotes a source (“close to Epstein,” as they all seem to be – Theo must get a ton of birthday presents) who says the chances are about 50/50 that Epstein leaves Boston. If he leaves, it would almost certainly be for Chicago. Given how extremely unlikely Epstein looked as a possibility just a week ago, I’d take 50/50 any day of the week. Seems high.
  • The source goes on, “I wouldn’t be shocked either way,” the source said. “I know he’s not dying in the Red Sox job, and if he went to the Cubs and they won, he’d be a Hall of Fame general manager.” (Someone must read Bleacher Nation.)
  • Over the weekend, a Major League source told me that the Red Sox are willing to let Epstein interview with the Cubs, if he so desires it. And, if Epstein leaves, the Red Sox are likely to pursue Billy Beane to replace him.
  • And, what do you know, other reports are now suggesting the same. WEEI in Boston says Red Sox ownership “is considering” letting Epstein interview with the Cubs. The Gordon Edes piece above notes that the Red Sox might pursue Beane if Epstein leaves. The proverbial smoke continues to bellow.
  • Ken Rosenthal also quotes a source who says the Red Sox might let Epstein go. They are in a moment of crisis, his source says, and “all bets are off.”
  • Separately, Rosenthal makes an interesting point, suggested to him by another general manager: given the White Sox got a couple prospects for Ozzie Guillen, what might the Cubs have to give up to get Epstein, who’s got one year left on his contract?
  • If compensation was required, how much would the Cubs give up to get Epstein? A decent prospect? A couple good ones? Is Epstein worth that much more than the best of the up-and-comers? For my part, I’d have absolutely no issue with the Cubs giving up a couple decent prospects for Epstein, if it came to that. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, who has been wrong as often as he’s been right recently, says the Red Sox will ask for “stiff compensation.”
  • One disconcerting rumor from the Boston Herald: a major league source says “Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts’ recent decision to dole out a four-year contract extension to farm director Oneri Fleita and to retain scouting director Tim Wilken may chase away big-name GM candidates, like Epstein, who likely would want to bring in their own people.” (About that link: if you think the advertising on Bleacher Nation is bad (it’s not), take a look at the Boston Herald. That page has an incomprehensible eight ads and two pop-ups. You’re welcome.) I’m not sure how worried I would be, though – we’ve heard from multiple sources, including Ricketts, himself, that the reaction he’s received from GM candidates has been nothing but positive.
  • As always, consider “liking” Bleacher Nation on Facebook to get the latest GM rumors piped right into your Facebook feed as soon as they’re posted.

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

78 responses to “Obsessive Cubs GM Watch: Source Says There’s a 50/50 Chance Theo Epstein Leaves Boston”

  1. Vinestal

    I’m not sure how comfortable Id be giving up 2 prospects for a GM, any GM really. I’m torn though, Id love to see Epstein as the Cubs GM and if they can get him here and that’s what it takes maybe a couple of prospects wouldn’t be so bad. *sigh* just sucks to set the player development back again this year after such a strong draft.

    ** Is there any precedence for trading on field talent for front office staff? Has it ever been done? Certainly not that I can remember.

    1. hansman1982

      2 prospects for a GM like Epstein is nothing…odds are those two prospects wont pan out anyway.  How about Shoulders and Barney

    2. Drake

      When Beane nearly took the Red Sox gig in 2002, the compensation the Red Sox were going to get in return was Kevin Youkilis. I wouldn’t read too much into that name because nobody besides the A’s were really high on him at that point.

  2. ari gold

    I’d be very comfortable giving up 2 draft picks. It would be nice to have a GM that could use our considerable resources to our advantage for once. Theo is that guy.

  3. Donnie

    Theo is a young master mind! Theo and Ryno on the northside would be huge. I wanna win again, the past 3 summers have sucked. Lets win again!!!!!!!

  4. Rancelot

    Trading for an executive has happened, and with the Cubs!!! Take a look at this transaction post from 1994:

    CHICAGO CUBS–Named Jim Riggleman manager. Traded pitcher Hector Trinidad to the Minnesota Twins as compensation for hiring president Andy MacPhail.

    I remember it vividly because I knew Hector Trinidad, decent pitching prospect at the time, through my time in the front office with the Peoria Chiefs. Not sure if the rules have changed since then, but there is a history.

  5. Cubbie_Blue

    Theo and Ryno on the northside sounds great. Plenty of money to spend. Lets get some winners in here!!

  6. die hard

    Dick Tidrow

  7. Ol'CharlieBrown

    Could it be that we get Epstein as our GM and he hires Francona as coach? Maybe they would like to stick together?

  8. 1CubFanInPA

    I’m not at all averse to having Epstein as the next GM. Although I’m not happy with the way he seemingly ‘threw Francona under the bus’ in Boston — or at least it appears that that may be the way things transpired. But what makes everyone believe that if Epstein “IS” the next GM that he will choose Ryno as the next Field Manager? Whomever the next GM of the Cubs ends up being is going to be able to pick their own Manager for the team, so I’m not getting my hopes up to high that it is going to be Sandberg in the end. Besides: until Q-ball is officially ’86′d’ by Ricketts there is no telling WHAT will happen with that position for 2012.

    1. hardtop

      why hasnt quade been canned yet? It’d be really swell of tom to let him start finding a new job ASAP. Holding on to Quade until the new GM is hired is pointless and letting him go paints a clear picture for the new GM regarding the state of the club, i.e.: we need you to do everything.

      1. jstraw

        They need him to do everything…including firing Quade. It’s a GM’s decision.

      2. Andrew

        I think the idea that he gets to do everything is exactly what a top-tier GM wants.  Also, I don’t think Q-ball is going to be around long.  He’ll land somewhere before next season.  If Epstein pans out, I would think it’ll be quick and Q-ball would be gone in a matter of days.  But, giving the new GM the freedom to make the managerial and coaching decisions is exactly what the new GM will want (regardless of who it ends up being).

        1. hardtop

          at that point, it’s just an exercise… a formality. If we know quade will be gone, whats the difference who fires him? it might be nice to save the new GM from a weird conversation
          “hi, mike, nice to meet you… you’re fired, have a nice life?”
          if the new GM decides to retain Quade, well, then he simply can’t be the new GM. It all seems kind of silly to me. But whatever, you guys obviously have a handle on what a GM expects and wants when taking the job… I must be the only person on BN who doesnt have an intimate knowledge of Theo Epsteins professional expectations.
          “I really enjoy firing people, Tom, so make sure I get to fire the previous coach, Ok? but I don’t care about evaluating and hiring/extending the scouting department, not at all… thanks for handling that one Tom o’ buddy.”
          Seems to me if he’s willing to take the job with the scouting/minors positions handled, he’s not going to give a shit if Quade has already turned in his uniform. I’m not saying the extension to Fleita was a bad idea, I’m just saying firing Quade isn’t a bad idea either. The new GM should be (has to be) okay with both.

    2. Bails17

      It doesn’t look like he threw him under the bus at all.  He defended him to the press.  What are you referring to?

      1. CubFan Paul

        ..defending him in the press one day, then being part of the ‘brain trust’ that decides to not pick up his 2012 option to manage or letting it be known that he (epstein) was having problems with Francona 6wks ago (saying he was worried about Tito’s sense of urgency)

        Tito was the fallguy/scapegoat/the guy thrown under the bus in boston for a september collapse when the team couldnt win back to back games

        1. TWC

          Paul, I’m glad you’re laying the groundwork for hating the new GM.  I’d really hate for you to be happy with any decision made by the Cubs’ upper management.

          1. CubFan Paul

            im “just sayin”

        2. Bails17

          Those were are “reports”.  And it is really his job to express any issues he has with the manager to the “brain trust” as you say.  If Theo indeed had issues with Tito’s lack of urgency 6 weeks ago what would you have him do?  Say nothing?  I don’t see this as throwing him under the bus at all.  It’s called doing his job.  Right or wrong….doesn’t matter.  There is not one of us that really knows what was going on in the club house the last 45 days or so.  Theo might have plenty of just cause for handling the situation the way he did.  But he never THREW Tito under the bus!

          Now…if you want to call Tito the fall guy…I am ok with that.  But the situation was handled the right way from a media standpoint.

          1. CubFan Paul

            sure ..they’re just reports ..and the pitchers weren’t drinking in the clubhouse during games either #glassBubble

            1. Bails17

              Still doesn’t make it throwing him under the bus.  Everyone agreed that his time had run out in Boston.  That’s it.

              1. CubFan Paul

                urban Dictionary:

                To intentionally reveal damaging or unflattering information about another’s character or transpired event, while at the same time trying to make themselves look good or innocent in the eyes of the listener. To shift blame or attention in a cowardly way

                When someone either intentionally or unintentionally says something that makes you look bad or points out a mistake you made in front of your peers. This is similar to being backstabbed

                Denotes an individual’s willingness to sacrifice another’s future and recognition for one’s own gain. Blatant disregard for another’s well-being. Betrayal

                so when i said earlier “..defending him in the press one day, then being part of the ‘brain trust’ that decides to not pick up his 2012 option to manage or letting it be known that he (epstein) was having problems with Francona 6wks ago (saying he was worried about Tito’s sense of urgency)” i was using “Thrown under the Bus” in the right Context. That’s it. :)

                1. hansman1982

                  I think Tito was the scapegoat that will allow Epstein to wash his hands of the 2011 Red Sox so if/when he leaves the team it wont be because he felt he built a bad team but rather he was pursuing a new opportunity

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    Seriously leave us goats alone :)… This conversation needs some brevity

                2. Bails17

                  Urgan Dictionary for Mr. Negative….

                  Winner is CubFan Paul!!  Congrats

                  He is the General Manager.  It is his job to discuss the job performance of his manager with his employers.

                  So every time someone in this country gets canned…someone threw them under the bus?

                  You have the amazing ability to look at the negative side of things all the while you don’t have any of the real inside information that was going on.

                  You use the words like betrayal, backstabbing, and cowardly.  You must have never been a boss in your lifetime.  Ever had to fire someone for the poor job they did?  You have a very short sighted look at this situation.

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    spin it how you want. I’m right. & i’m not being Negative, Bails you asked a questioned and I answered with reported news & facts from the horses mouth. No one likes to feel butt-hurt when wrong but it won’t last long (or so i hear), you’ll get over it

                    ..and i didn’t use words like “betrayal, backstabbing, and cowardly”, I cited them, so if winning two World Series or winning 90 games this year & not making the playoffs is a poor job then we should lay out the red carpet for Tito immediately. That’s it. again :)

                    1. Bails17

                      Paul….You cited the words in reference to the term YOU USED!  No one else…just you.  You can lick that wound later my man!  ;)

                      So in reality you are calling Theo (the man who is really responsible for those two World Series and successful seasons) a backstabber…a coward….and Benedict Arnold for doing his job.

                      For the record…he was never quoted in saying he was upset with Tito…it was “reported” that he was.  And…this could really have been a mutual decision between Tito and management as it looked like his time was really over in Boston.   He was pretty much coming out and saying it out loud in his end of the year press conference.  He was saying things that he wouldn’t have said if he really wanted to come back.

                      These are the facts sir….you just can’t admit you don’t really know what went on behind closed doors.  You are just going from your gut feeling.  So….I got this one big boy.  Thanks for playing though!

                    2. CubFan Paul

                      damn ..It must really sting. I’m sorry to bring sooo much pain ..you can stop refreshing the page looking for another response

                    3. CubFan Paul

                      i take it as they agree with me just as Tdub, Hans (i pronounce the german way) & Hardtop did to a certain extent because I wouldn’t contribute if I thought it would hurt your product. Im not saying I contribute because i’m right all the time but I do try not to be a Jerk, well sourced, polite, and the furthest thing from an e-bully when someone keeps replying either because they dont like me or have an e-agenda. i’m not a trouble maker or a message board weirdo looking for e-fights but you giving me something to consider makes me feel like Tito

                    4. TWC

                      Hell FIRE, Paully!  You told us to stop refreshing this page, and then you go adding a new comment.  How we gonna keep up with you acting all like that, Gramps?

                      Jeesh.

                3. Wilbur

                  While not likely found in your Funk and Wagnalls’ I always connoted backstabbing as a peer saying or doing something to you that you either didn’t deserve or if you had messed up would have otherwise gone unnoticed and didn’t need to be commented upon, but was.

                  Seems like Theo being part of the decision to fire Tito doesn’t meet my definition of backstabbing as 1) it was an manager/employee relationship and 2) the issues were certainly out there for all to see and were a huge discussion that was not going to go away for a long, long time.

              2. hardtop

                Paul, i don’t necessarily disagree with you… but citing a definition from urban dictionary does not lend credibility to your argument (or any argument for that matter). its user contributed definitions. so any mullet wearing cardinal fan can offer his own definition on “incest” …for instance. this explanation of “thrown under the bus” (though i agree with it) resides along side the definition of a ‘Cincinnati bow-tie’… hardly compelling evidence. ;)

  9. Cubbie_Blue

    I sure hope quade gets canned! very soon, decent 3rd base coach…. just not a good skipper. If theo is the new gm, i wonder who he would bring as field mgr. i would hope it would be Ryno or Francona

  10. Cubbies4Life

    I, too, was intrigued about an Epstein/Francona partnership. A little bell went off in my head when I heard about Francona’s departure, and I wondered if he and Epstein could be the management team the Cubs so badly need. These are certainly interesting times!

  11. Joe Cartwright

    Didn’t a lot of people say the Fleita extension MAY chase away the big names, you know, when the extension happened? Way to be behind, Boston.

    And I think you’re doing a great job with the ads. I actually thought ‘what ads?’ and had to look for them.

  12. 1CubFanInPA

    I was (and still am) all for the extension given to Oneri Fleita. What we have to remember is that the Cubs are pouring millions into a developmental complex in the Dominican Republic and Fleita has been on the ground there overseeing this whole project from the start. Add that to the fact that he has long-established relationships built with the Dominicans in the hopes of pulling some more future stars out of there in the future to help the Cubs. If Fleita wasn’t retained then who would the Cubs get to replace him? Remember: if Fleita left, all of his scouts would have been leaving with him. That void that would have been created in the Caribbean would have taken a decade or more to fill, so the Fleita extension was a ‘no brainer’ in my opinion.

    1. Jim

      Totally agree and you have to figure a smart prospective GM would be able to see what losing Fleita would do for that part of scouting/development.

      1. Toosh

        If Ricketts wants to do the GM’s job as he did in retaining Fleita he might as well continue and fire Quade and his staff and file tampering charges against the Marlins or trade Zambrano to them.

  13. Dumpman

    I don’t mind sending Compensation to the Sox. However, in my mind, Castro, Jackson and Garza shouldn’t even be considered. I could totally live with 2 top 10 lower prospects. Maybe something like Dolis and Ha? I was reading on another forum about how the Sox should AT LEAST get Castro or Garza.. Foolishness.
    All in all, I’d still rather hire Byrnes over the lot really. Guy built an awesome system with the Dbacks. He had like 7 or 8 top 100 MLB prospects when he was with the Dbacks. Thats what we need here. No comp needed there either.

    1. CubFan Paul

      i believe Byrnes is under contract as well..

    2. Cedlandrum

      Wait, what? you would give up Dolis and Ha for Epstein? I don’t think I would.

    3. Andrew

      Castro is not going anywhere.  Any prospects-for-GM trade is not going to involve players of that caliber.  The Cubs would throw in more quantity than quality in negotiations.

      1. Jason

        Neither Ha nor Dolis will be anything other than fringe regulars in the bigs. I’d give up both in a heartbeat and just be happy that I didn’t have to give Sczcur.

  14. Dumpman

    Sure Cedlandrum. Our system right now is 100% depth. We literally have maybe 20 guys that you could fit into our top 10 and be justified. Id really hate to lose Dolis, but we have a vast amount of #5 starter/BP arms in our system as it is. If you could convince them to take Wallach, Lopez, Reed, Cabrera, Jay Jackson.. anyone liek that would be nice, but I see Dolis as someoen they’d rather have.

    Like I said, I’d perfer to just get Byrnes really. Dont get me wrong I love Theo. I think Theo would really change the atmosphere around the organization, But I really liek Byrnes, and think hes the best candidate thats probably really actually available.

  15. Curt

    I guess my question Brett, is this posturing for leverage from Epstein to the red sox or is Theo really serious about the cubs I think were all going to find out just how serious rickets is about winning and changing the culture here

  16. Goat

    This is how I picture the negotiations going…

    Epstein/Red Sox: We want Ha and Dolis for me.

    Epstein/Cubs: I’m pretty good, but I don’t want to give up two prospects of that caliber. How about one of them?

    Epstein/Red Sox: One of them and a C-level prospect?

    Epstein/Cubs: I guess we’ll go for that.

    (deal is done, paper are signed)

    Epstein: 2 career back-ups for me? What a great deal!

    Red Sox: I think Theo just screwed us for himself.

  17. die hard

    what if Epstein or new GM keeps Quade for one year to complete contract?

    1. TWC

      I think there’s a better chance that the Cubs hire ME before they’ll retain Quade.

      Plus, if Epstein jumps ship to helm the Cubs, it’s a pretty good indication that he’s not too concerned about completing contracts, eh?

  18. NC Fan

    Epstein, yes. Tito, yes. Both at the same time…don’t hold your breath. I would LOVE to see Theo go to Chicago, then do the right thing and fire, not dismiss, but fire Quade. Then he could do the popular and perhaps the right thing and hire Ryno. I don’t see it happening, no how much the Northside wants it. If it isn’t Epstein, and I hope it isn’t Beane, then the popular thing SHOULD be done and that is to hire Ryno. Why you ask? Epstein doesn’t have anything to prove (or maybe he does…103 and counting anyone…) and could hire someone else to manage. The mystery GM would need to do the popular thing to get the faithful behind him for his next move.

  19. die hard

    maybe trigger not pulled yet because team of Ricketts’ top choice still in playoffs?

  20. CubFan Paul

    from Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun

    the Cubs likely will turn their attention to a first-time GM. According to an industry source, the Cubs’ short list includes Epstein’s protégé, Boston senior VP Ben Cherington, Chicago White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn and Atlanta’s pro scouting director John Coppolella

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/blog/2011/10/names_and_things_to_consider_i.html

    supposedly that list is if Ricketts doesnt get Epstein

  21. RY

    what is the holdup in firing quade?

    1. TWC

      They’re waiting for YOU to clear your schedule, kiddo!

  22. die hard

    dont forget Tidrow…recent change in organization above him may cause him to find other pastures…he also has ties here

    1. TWC

      Tidrow reports directly to Sabean.  What changes are you talking about?  The CEO retiring?  And, by “ties” in Chicago, do you mean his 3 seasons of pitching in relief 30 years ago?

      Don’t get me wrong, die hard, I’m just trying to figure out why you’re so boned up on this dude.  Makes no sense.  Dude is a SF Bay Area native and has been working for the Giants for 20 years.  Unless you’re his kid and you’re trying to gin up interest in him, I can’t figure it out.

  23. Cheryl

    So, when is this expected to go down, if it goes down?

  24. Dumpman

    Yea I think its pretty clear that we have a couple tiers or GMs in Ricketts mind.

    Tier 1:
    Epstein
    Friedman
    Cashman
    Beane
    Tier 2:
    Cherrington
    Hahn
    Coppolella

    Tier ?:
    Byrnes
    DePodesta
    Avila

  25. die hard

    or GM for team still in playoffs?

  26. die hard

    Tidrow has got all the credentials needed and more than most of the other candidates…but he will never get a GM position with SF…reached ceiling there…he may welcome the challenge….he will come alot cheaper than Epstein et al and he will allow Mr. Ricketts to mix in cause he respects that its Mr. Ricketts’ money…..hes been as instrumental as anyone over there in making SF a world series team…and if anything I am old enough to be his father…but thanks for kudo anyway..hahaha

    p.s. Mr. Ricketts..if you read these blogs (and you should), give Mr. Tidrow a call…

  27. Derek

    We can’t fire Quade yet because he is the compensation for Epstein!!!!

  28. LouCub

    I hope this goes down soon, i hate when shit drags on…I too want someone to oversee any deal of Z to the Marlins