The Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is among the best in baseball. Some may even say that he is the best executive in the MLB. Epstein has rebuilt a struggling Cubs team into a championship contender. Before all of that, though, he ended the Curse of the Bambino for the Red Sox.
Days With The Red Sox
In November of 2002, Epstein became the youngest general manager in MLB history at 28 years old. The Red Sox hired Epstein as a replacement to interim GM Mike Port. At the time of his hiring, the Red Sox were still suffering from the infamous Curse of the Bambino. The curse had lasted 86 years until Epstein ended it in 2004. Epstein made various moves to turn the Red Sox into a contender. Those moves included signing pitcher Curt Schilling, pitcher Kevin Millar, and 2004 World Series MVP David "Big Papi" Ortiz. All of these acquisitions were vital parts of their championship roster.
One year after winning the World Series, in 2005, Epstein turned down a three year/$1.5 million dollar contract extension from the Sox. However, in January of 2006, he returned to the Red Sox as the General Manager and Executive Vice President. Epstein's Red Sox won the World Series again in 2007, but in 2011 Epstein resigned from his position on the Red Sox to become the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.
Epstein Has Turned Cubs Into A World Series Contender
At the time of his hiring, the Chicago Cubs were one of the worst teams in baseball. The Chicago Cubs finished 2011 with a 71-91 record. Through drafting well and stocking up their farm system, the Cubbies are now one of the most dynamic teams in the league, and that should continue throughout the next few years. Epstein and his General Manager Jed Hoyer deserve the credit for turning the team into what it is today. The Cubs have budding superstars on their roster, such as Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell; all were acquired under Epstein's tenure.
With a great mix of both young and proven talent on their roster, many pundits believe the Cubbies have what it takes to go all the way this year. This is a great bargaining chip for Epstein as the last time the Cubs won a World Series was way back in 1908. If the Cubs were to win it all, a lot of the credit would go Epstein's way, leading to the question, is he worth as much as a star player?
Without Epstein, the Cubs would not be in the position they are today. No one, not even a player, is more important to their franchise. Epstein is without a doubt worth as much as a star player, but the main question is, should he be paid like one? Think of it this way: the Cubs' catcher Miguel Montero makes $14 million a year. Shouldn't Epstein make just as much as him, if not more?
If the Cubs don't offer Epstein a juicy enough contract, he can walk away and have his pick of any MLB team. Teams would pounce to sign him and would also likely overpay. Any team would be lucky to have him, no matter the cost of acquiring him. He is one of those rare executives who can turn a mediocre team into a great one, whether by free agency, trades, or the draft. That is a prized commodity in today's MLB.
The record contract for an MLB executive was set last year when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Andrew Friedman to a five year/$35 million contract. It is almost a guaranteed fact that Epstein's new contract will shatter that record. The only question is, by how much?
All contract information courtesy of ESPN.com