(670 The Score) The Theo Epstein era is over for the Cubs.
Epstein, 46, will step down as the Cubs’ president of baseball operations and leave the organization after nine seasons, the team announced Tuesday. General manager Jed Hoyer has been promoted to be the new president of baseball operations. The moves will be effective this Friday.
“Theo and I have been communicating about this possible move for a couple of years, and we have been working together toward a transition that makes sense for the Cubs and for him,” chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “The timing is right for a number of reasons, and most importantly we are both thrilled that Jed is the person succeeding Theo. We have had our most successful period in over a century under Theo’s leadership, and we are grateful for everything he has given to this organization and this city. Jed has been a big part of that success too and offers a combination of continuity and a fresh perspective that will serve us well as we look forward to another period of sustained success.”
Epstein -- who previously led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 -- joined the Cubs in October 2011 and brought in Hoyer as his general manager. They rebuilt the Cubs, leading them to a World Series title in 2016, a championship that broke a drought dating back to 1908. That accomplishment came after three losing seasons as the complete overhaul got underway. The Cubs then hired Joe Maddon as their new manager before the 2015 season and took off with a 97-win campaign and trip to the National League Championship Series. The Cubs won three NL Central crowns (2016, 2017, 2020) and advanced to the playoffs five times in Epstein's nine-year tenure. They also advanced to the NLCS three times (2015, 2016, 2017). By their standards, the Cubs have struggled in the past three years, falling in the wild-card round in 2018 and this past season while also missing the playoffs in 2019.
Epstein's exit was big news but not necessarily a shock, as reports had suggested he could step down this offseason and Epstein himself had indicated he was unlikely to remain with the organization past 2021, which was when his contract had been set to end.
“For the rest of my life, I will cherish having been part of the great Chicago Cubs organization during this historic period,” Epstein said in a statement. “All of the things that have made this experience so special — the fans, the players, the managers and coaches, ownership, my front office colleagues, the uniqueness of the Wrigley experience, the history — make it so tough to leave the Cubs. But I believe this is the right decision for me even if it’s a difficult one. And now is the right time rather than a year from now. 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. Jed has earned this opportunity and is absolutely the right person to take over this baseball operation at such an important time.
“I am grateful to everyone with the Cubs: to the Ricketts family for this opportunity as well as for their loyalty; to the fans for their support and the depth of their emotional connection with the team; and to the players, coaches, staff and my front office colleagues for their friendship, excellence and dedication to helping us accomplish our initial goals of regular October baseball and a World championship."
What's next for Epstein wasn't immediately clear, but he suggested privately he'll sit out the 2021 season. Epstein sent a letter to friends in which he indicated he plans on "having a third chapter leading a baseball organization someday" while adding, "I do not expect it to be next year," Jeff Passan of ESPN reported. The Mets and the Phillies are two high-profile teams that are currently searching for a top baseball executive.
Hoyer, 46, expressed his gratitude for his new opportunity.
“I have been so fortunate to work alongside Theo for 17 of the last 19 years,” Hoyer said in a statement. “I could not have had a better mentor or a more loyal and trusted friend. He has already changed two storied franchises with his passion, creativity, intellect and leadership. I have no question that the next chapters in his career will be equally impressive and impactful.
“I am thankful to the Ricketts family for bestowing me with the opportunity to lead the Cubs baseball operation. For the last nine years, I have worked alongside so many dedicated colleagues with one goal in mind — to build a team and an organization that makes Cubs fans proud and provides them with memories of a lifetime. I am thrilled that this leadership transition will provide continuity to a department that has had tremendous successes over the past six seasons. Ultimately, this transition is about the future, and I look forward to constantly pushing the Cubs to evolve and grow to ensure that there is sustained success at Wrigley Field.”