Red Sox Rumors: Theo Epstein isn’t coming home to Boston

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: President Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs is seen before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on September 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 5-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: President Theo Epstein of the Chicago Cubs is seen before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on September 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 5-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Former GM Theo Epstein isn’t returning to the Boston Red Sox.

The end of Theo Epstein’s tenure with the Chicago Cubs is similar to his exit from the Boston Red Sox organization. After nine years at the helm of the front office, he’s making a shocking departure with one year left on his contract.

According to Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic, the Cubs have announced that Epstein will step down as president of baseball operations. He will be replaced in the role by executive vice president and general manager Jed Hoyer.

Epstein has long been considered one of the game’s best executives as the architect of championship teams for two storied franchises that ended excruciatingly long title droughts.

The Red Sox made Epstein the youngest general manager in MLB history when they hired him at the age of 28 in November 2002. Within two years, Boston was breaking out the duck boats to celebrate the end of an 86-year curse.

Epstein left the Red Sox in the wake of a historic September collapse in 2011 to take the job with the Cubs as president of baseball operations. A few rocky years as Epstein worked his magic to rebuild the farm system finally paid off with a return to the postseason in 2015 and a World Series championship the following year to end over a century of misery.

Now the former Wonder Boy is back on the market, leading some fans to wonder if the Brookline native will return home to lead the Red Sox front office once again.

Don’t count on it. At least not anytime soon.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, Epstein wants to take some time off to spend with family and focus on other pursuits.

"“I do hope and expect to have a third chapter in baseball, but in no shape or form do I expect to do it right away,” said Epstein."

You can never say never when it comes to Theo, who has a history of changing his mind and blowing our minds with shocking decisions pertaining to his career path. Remember, this is the guy who once tried to sneak out of Fenway Park wearing a gorilla costume after quitting his job with the Red Sox, only to return about a week later with a new contract keeping him in Boston.

His departure from Chicago feels different. There’s no indication that he’s going to change his mind and intrigue for a position with another organization doesn’t appear to be pulling him away. Perhaps he wasn’t willing to oversee another rebuild with the Cubs. The pandemic might have convinced him to spend more time at home. Maybe he simply needs time to weigh his options and figure out his next step.

If Epstein decides he wants to lead another front office there will be teams jumping at the chance to hire him. The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are rumored to have interest but they can’t wait for him if Epstein is determined to take at least a year off.

As fitting as it might be for Epstein’s carer to come full circle with a return home to the Red Sox, Chaim Bloom is already running this front office as the chief baseball officer. While Epstein could be given a different title, inserting him above Bloom would be a slap in the face to someone they have invested heavily in.

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Those eager to kick Bloom out the door after one failed season in order to recapture the glory years with Epstein are taking a short-sighted approach. Bloom inherited a team with a farm system that had been gutted and was told by ownership that he had to slash their bloated payroll. If that wasn’t bad enough, his two best starting pitchers spent the entire season on the injured list.

We can’t judge Bloom based on one miserable shortened season. It took Epstein a few years to rebuild the Cubs and Bloom deserves the same opportunity. Boston is a “what have you done for me lately” town. If Bloom doesn’t turn things around quickly, more fans will join the mob calling for his head.

Those expectations are wildly unrealistic. Give the man a chance to implement his own blueprint on this organization. Bloom built a significant portion of the Tampa Bay Rays roster that made it to the World Series this year. That should earn him some credit.

If Epstein hasn’t taken another front office job a few years from now, perhaps the Red Sox reevaluate. If Bloom’s vision isn’t panning out, ownership should make a call to see if Theo is interested in returning. That’s not happening now though. By the time this scenario would even be feasible, Epstein might already be back in the game elsewhere or Bloom may have proven himself by building a winning team.

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Epstein’s triumphant return to the Red Sox seems like a storybook ending to an incredible career but his next chapter is probably going to be with another franchise.