Red Sox Rumors: Theo Epstein dismisses speculation about return to Boston
By Sean Penney
Former Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein claims there’s no truth to the rumors that he’s interested in leaving the Chicago Cubs to return to the organization.
Theo Epstein was once the golden boy of the Boston Red Sox. The franchise made him the youngest general manager in MLB history when they promoted him to the role in 2002 and he quickly proved his brilliance as the architect of the World Series championship team that ended an 86-year title drought.
That boy has grown into a man. Epstein left the Red Sox in 2011 to accept the position of president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. He built a team that vanquished another curse by winning a title in 2016, the franchise’s first in over a century.
The 45-year old has already cemented his legacy as one of baseball’s top executives. With the Red Sox having a void to fill in their front office in the wake of Dave Dombrowski’s departure, speculation has run rampant that Epstein could return to the organization. Could the Brookline native see his career come full circle by steering the team he cheered for throughout his childhood into the future?
Don’t count on it. Epstein has heard the rumors, but according to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic Chicago, it’s not happening.
"“There’s nothing to that story,” said Epstein. “I’m here. We have a lot we need to work on to get back to the level we’re accustomed to. I’m invested in that.”"
So, that closes the book on that rumor, right? Probably. Although, conspiracy theorists will point out that Epstein deflecting the story doesn’t confirm anything. What’s he supposed to say? If the Red Sox haven’t reached out to the Cubs for permission to speak with Epstein, he can’t say anything. He shouldn’t even hint at a desire to return to Boston since it wouldn’t sit well with his current employer. He’s committed to the Cubs because that’s his job, at least for the moment. It doesn’t mean that can’t change.
There’s little reason to think that it would though. Epstein is still under contract after signing a five-year extension with Chicago in 2016. He isn’t free to negotiate a new role with another franchise unless the Cubs grant him permission, which doesn’t seem likely to happen considering he’s arguably the best thing that ever happened to their once long-suffering franchise.
Epstein obviously isn’t taking a demotion to accept a general manager position. The Red Sox could name him president of baseball operations, which was Dombrowski’s title, but that would be the type of lateral move rarely seen by executives in the world of professional sports. Teams may allow their staff to seek promotions they can’t find internally but there’s no reason why the Cubs should let him move to another franchise while retaining his same role.
More from Red Sox Rumors
- Is Jean Segura the solution to Red Sox’ Trevor Story concerns?
- Red Sox news: Orioles eyeing former Boston arms, Dansby Swanson to Cubs, JD Martinez to Dodgers
- Did Alex Cora just drop a huge hint about Red Sox free-agent target?
- MLB insider hints Red Sox teardown may continue with two trades
- Division rival targeting Red Sox 2022 standout Michael Wacha
More importantly, why would Epstein want to return to Boston? He’s got a pretty great gig in Chicago where he’s adored for brining them a championship a few years ago. Even with the Cubs missing the postseason this year for the first time since 2014, his job seems secure.
Compare that to Boston where anything short of a championship is considered a brutal disaster. Ownership has shown they have a short leash with no tolerance for failure. Ben Cherington won a World Series in 2013 and was gone two years later. Dombrowski’s wheeling and dealing turned a fringe-contender into a champion, yet he was shown the door 10 months later.
In a “what have you done for us lately” town, there’s no such thing as job security. There’s no grace period after winning that earns you the opportunity to keep building what you started. That’s not an environment most people would want to sign up for, let alone someone who is already locked into a solid situation.
Barring an unlikely scenario where the Red Sox offer him a piece of ownership, locking in a semblance of security while providing an upgrade on his current position, there’s no logical reason why Epstein would return to Boston. The Cubs have no reason to let him negotiate with the Red Sox and it’s not a job Epstein should want to take.