Epstein’s current salary with the Boston Red Sox is believed to be in the $3 million range, so, setting aside the “transfer bonus” he’s receiving, his move to Chicago doesn’t actually increase his take-home pay by an appreciable amount (although it extends him four additional years of security, I’m thinking he wouldn’t have had trouble finding that from any number of teams).
So, if it isn’t the money, why is Epstein jumping ship from his hometown team to come to the war zone that is the Chicago Cubs’ front office? Dave Kaplan says, aside from the professional challenge, it’s primarily because of team Chairman and Owner, Tom Ricketts.
Sources tell us that Ricketts laid out his plan to Epstein and offered him near total authority on baseball decisions with no one to answer to other than the Ricketts family themselves. Epstein has no interest in running the business side of the organization and Ricketts organizational structure is set up to separate both the baseball and the business sides leaving Epstein to concentrate on fixing an organization that needs a new philosophy and must change the culture in the major league clubhouse.
Ricketts outlined his plan to build through the farm system while also spending wisely on the acquisition of veteran stars who can make an immediate impact on the Cubs. In fact, sources tell us that Ricketts is not opposed to spending big money on a star player, but for him to sign a mega contract the player must fit long-term with the organization. The acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez by the Red Sox is the type of player and commitment that Ricketts is willing to take on with the Cubs. He looks at Gonzalez as a star player, in the prime of his career and a player who is solid both offensively and defensively in addition to being a person of impeccable character. When opportunities like that come along he wants his Cubs to be in a position to make a move for a superstar. It was that willingness to spend when it makes sense in addition to the increased power and salary that will come with his contract that sold Epstein on Ricketts vision for the organization.
Taken together, Kaplan says, Epstein was “blown away” by Ricketts and his plans for the Cubs.
I think too few recognize and appreciate the long view Ricketts has taken to ownership of a scuffling franchise like the Cubs. From the improved Spring Training facilities, to the renovations at and around Wrigley Field, to the upcoming Dominican academy, to the spending on international and draft prospects, to the long-term plan for television revenues, Ricketts has demonstrated that he sees steady, long-range success for the Cubs’ organization as the model that will take it to the promised land. It’s easy to see why Epstein would be attracted to that.
And, given that philosophy, it’s easy to see why Ricketts would be likewise attracted to Epstein.
I’m not too proud – or too afraid of the obvious jokes – to say that I’m crazy attracted to both of them right now.