The Red Sox finally announced tonight that a deal has been struck with the Cubs, allowing Boston general manager Theo Epstein to leave his post to become president of baseball operations in Chicago.
Further comment will be made by both ballclubs Tuesday, the next scheduled day off for the World Series. Major League Baseball is super strict on news announcements during the World Series, in hopes of keeping the Fall Classic atop the headlines.
Because Epstein had one more year on his contract, the Red Sox will be receiving compensation from the Cubs, though it is believed the teams haven’t yet reached an agreement on specific players. It doesn’t look like it’ll be starting pitcher Matt Garza going to the Red Sox, though, nor does it appear the Cubs will be taking on that awful John Lackey contract.
The Epstein deal late tonight should kick off a steady stream of personnel moves throughout baseball.
For starters, it has been widely reported that as soon as Epstein, 37, officially signed on with Chicago, he would appoint Padres GM Jed Hoyer — his right-hand man for years in Boston — to the same post with the Cubs.
That means Padres vice president Josh Byrnes, another Epstein disciple until he was named Diamondbacks general manager in 2005, will be promoted to replace Hoyer.
The Red Sox didn’t announce tonight who would replace Epstein, though it’s widely believed assistant GM Ben Cherington will get that job.
With the Cubs, meanwhile, Epstein has an opportunity to break another historic curse. When Boston won it all in ’04, it was its first championship since 1918 — two years before the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Chicago hasn’t won a World Series since beating Detroit in 1908 — eight years before the Cubs moved into their new home, Wrigley Field.
Epstein’s first order of business will be deciding whether to keep Mike Quade, who is coming off his first full season as a major league manager. One popular theory: Epstein could can Quade (likely), and reunite with Terry Francona (not as likely), who managed the two World Series winners in Boston before walking away after an epic collapse late this season.
There are reports Epstein won’t bring in Francona, but nothing’s been said officially, obviously. Francona, 52, has made it perfectly clear that he’s not done managing.
Epstein also could turn to hometown hero Ryne Sandberg, whom many — including Sandberg himself — felt deserved the gig last offseason. Irked by the snub, Sandberg bolted the organization for a job in the Phillies system.