I want to be upfront about today’s update to the Theo Epstein/Cubs contract extension story, because there is news to report, but it isn’t exactly Earth-shattering. Yet.
So first, let’s get to the facts:
- Theo Epstein’s initial five-year contract expires at the end of the 2016 season.
- There have been no reports of a completed extension or new contract just yet.
- Any new Theo Epstein contract is expected to make him the highest-paid executive in baseball (over Dodgers President Andrew Friedman).
- Both sides want to continue the relationship, and discussions have taken place to make it so.
Of course, given how successful Epstein has been in Chicago and how close to the season we were slowly getting, most Cubs fans shared at least some level of concern (it’s in our nature).
And then there was radio silence.
A month and half went by, as did Spring Training, and then, last night, the Chicago Cubs played their first game of the season – the last Opening Day of Epstein’s current contract – with no word on an extension or contract of any kind. I think it’s fair to say that, typically, players and executives like to complete these sort of discussions in the offseason, when the craziness of the regular season isn’t dictating their lives. So, without any news before last night, I was quietly bummed.
“I thought they were good productive conversations,” Epstein told Carrie Muskat of Cubs.com. “We both feel it will get done at some point soon.” For his part, Ricketts added (via Jesse Rogers at ESPN), “I think we’ll get to a conclusion pretty soon.”
Did you catch the distinction between these comments and what we’ve heard before?
For months, we’ve heard that the two sides were on the same page, or believe a deal will eventually get done, but, for the first time, these two public figures – who are extremely cognizant of the words they choose – added the qualifier “soon” to their responses, independently. According to multiple reports, the sides rekindled (or continued, for all we know) these negotiations in the Spring and are actually expecting something to get done relatively soon.
So, while I was never truly concerned that the season would end without an extension for Epstein, I am now as far away from that fear as I have ever been. I believe in what both Epstein and Ricketts have said, and am tentatively expecting an announcement sometime in the near future.
We’ll keep you updated on this, as well as any related contract discussions with other key members of the front office, which may be occurring here at the same time.