Theo Epstein has announced he will be stepping down as President of the Chicago Cubs on November 20th. This news came as a shock to some as Epstein was entering the final year of a 5-year, 25 million extensions and looked likely to see the end of his tenure through. Epstein joined the Cubs in October 2011 after the infamous Red Sox collapse. Throughout his 9 years as Cubs President, the Cubs enjoyed success unparalleled to their long, painful history as they made the postseason 5 times and ended a 108-year World Series drought.
Twitter Has Lots To Say About The Departure
As the biggest Cubs news in recent years breaks, multiple different rumors have circulated across Twitter as to what led to the sudden decision to step away.
After texting w/a few baseball people, including from the #Cubs org, sounds like Theo Epstein wanted nothing to do with the decisions ownership is about to force management to make this offseason. We should expect A FEW, not just one, non-tenders from Ricketts. @PinwheelsIvyPod
— Kevin Fiddler (@KFidds) November 17, 2020
Possible Disagreements with Ownership
A lot has been said about Theo Epstein’s differences with the Rickett’s Family over the last few years. Towards the rebuild, Theo and Jed Hoyer were often given the green-light towards major free agent signings and trades. In the last two seasons, the Cubs have shown less willingness to spend over the luxury tax. This has been a very frustrating battle for both fans and the front-office as spending heavily and often-times into penalty brackets is what major-market organizations must be willing to do if they want to remain competitive at the top of the sport. If ownership is forcing the front office’s hand to let key contributors to the team walk, it is understandable how the tension may have been too much to overcome.
Theo Epstein is already a first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer. He built two long-suffering franchises into World Series champions. And he's just 46 years old.
Epstein's next profession likely won't be in baseball. He has passions outside of the game, including in politics.
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) November 17, 2020
Sights on a New Career Path
Other reporters have speculated that this could be the end of Theo Epstein and baseball as a whole. With such a strong track record of spearheading change as a leader, it is not unfathomable to imagine Epstein’s attempt to make a move into a sphere where he could influence change on a greater level.
Epstein says in the letter he will spend time with family and work with non-profits, including his Foundation to Be Named Later and The Players Alliance.
"I do plan on having a third chapter leading a baseball organization someday, though I do not expect it to be next year."
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 17, 2020
Epstein has shown interest in returning to the sport someday, but he has stressed he will take time off to explore other interests for now. With key openings available for storied franchises such as the Mets and Phillies, this may be a sign that baseball may not be a top priority for Theo. If he does decide to venture back into the sport, perhaps maybe a run for Commissioner of Baseball could be in his future as the sport desperately needs a forward-thinking leader to grow the fanbase.
Straight From Theo Epstein Himself
Theo Epstein/ Jed Hoyer statements: pic.twitter.com/XjK3oc0VFG
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 17, 2020
Theo Epstein has always been famous for saying 10 years is the most important person to spend in one position. Almost everyone in Chicago and baseball expected Epstein to move on following the 2021 MLB season. What ultimately may have caused the final domino to fall a year early is the Cubs organization deciding they are at a major turning point. This is surely just the first big move in an offseason that could feature many necessary and shocking Cubs’ moves.
“The organization faces a number of decisions this winter that carry long-term consequences; those types of decisions are best made by someone who will be here for a long period rather than just one more year.” – Theo Epstein
Epstein acknowledged he felt he was no longer the best choice to lead the Cubs as their timelines no longer matched up. While many are sad to see him leave, this is possibly the most Theo Epstein way to go out. The best leaders think about what is best for their following as a whole, not just for themselves. Theo Epstein was far and away from the best President in Cubs’ history and very well may hold that honorary title forever.
What Comes Next?
Losing someone of Epstein’s stature is never easy, but Cubs faithful should find solace in the belief that he has been working behind the scenes with Jed Hoyer on a transition plan for quite some time. Hoyer has been alongside Epstein for nearly his entire career in professional baseball and will slide up from GM to President.
The future of the Cubs may very well be bleak. No one can predict what the upcoming years of Cubs’ baseball will look like right now. The thought of a potential rebuild is unpleasant, but looking back at the last 9 years, the ultimate goal was achieved. After erasing a 108-year curse and raising a World Series Trophy, we must all tip our caps to Theo Epstein.