For the first time since 2011, Theo Epstein is now unemployed after resigning from his position as President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs. As Cub’s fans, Epstein’s departure was something we have seen coming for a while now, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m grateful I got to experience his greatness and watch the greatest of all-time run my favorite team.
Epstein’s MO since his Red Sox days has been to stick around for a decade then move onto a new challenge. Well, that day has come, and now the Cubs must get ready for some tough times. The real question becomes, what will Epstein and the Cubs do moving forward?
Who is Jed Hoyer?
Theo Epstein is stepping down from his role as president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs
Jed Hoyer will take over the role pic.twitter.com/A2xPwnaprk
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 17, 2020
Now that Epstein is gone, Jed Hoyer has been promoted to replace him as President of Baseball Operations. Many casual Cubs fans might not know who Hoyer is, but he is most certainly qualified. He has been with Epstein since the beginning in Boston, helping with their two titles.
Then, Hoyer worked as the Cubs’ General Manager and helped craft the organization into what it is today. Now, I definitely know what all of the pessimistic fans are thinking. “Wait, didn’t he help get us in the awful spot we are in now?”
Well, the short answer is yes, but it’s more complicated than that. Hoyer was key in building a World Series champion team that has consistently been in the playoffs since 2015. Not to mention the fact that, at the end of the day, Epstein was making the final calls.
Hoyer has the freedom to make the team his own now. The fact Hoyer was also Epstein’s hand-picked successor should comfort those uneasy fans.
The Future of The Cubs
Now that Hoyer is in charge, he has quite the job ahead of him. Ever since the Cubs’ World Series win in 2016, every year has been largely disappointing, despite consistent playoff appearances. Most Cubs fans in 2016 would have been shocked to hear that they hadn’t won another World Series by now, let alone not even make an appearance.
It’s now looking like the Cubs are ready to tear it down, and no one is off the table. This includes players like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and yes, even Anthony Rizzo, despite all being once looked at as untouchable. You know things are about to get pretty bad when the heart and soul of the Cubs, Rizzo, could be gone from the Friendly Confines.
January 6, 2012: Theo pulls off a blockbuster by acquiring the @cubs first baseman of the future, Anthony Rizzo, and minor league pitcher Zach Cates from the Padres for Andrew Cashner and minor league outfielder Kyung-Min Na. pic.twitter.com/WFYpUo6gMh
— All of Theo’s moves (Daily Random Cub) (@DailyRandomCub) November 26, 2020
To make things even worse for the Cubs, the entire lineup, with the exception of players like Jason Heyward and Ian Happ, struggled mightily last year with a team batting average of .220. I know all of the advanced analytics nerds will be mad I’m putting value on batting average in 2020, but .220 is pitiful for an alleged contender to be hitting. The Cubs’ on-base percentage wasn’t nearly as bad at .318, but this only puts them at 18th in the league. It’s pretty inexcusable for a team with a top-five payroll to be putting up such bad to average numbers.
This means that these superstar players’ value is not nearly what it was only a few seasons ago. And it doesn’t make things easier that the Cubs have a very thin farm system at the moment. All things considered, the only certainty is that at least a couple of big names will be leaving the Cubs.
The most likely candidates for me would be Kris Bryant and Wilson Contreras.
Bryant only has one year remaining on his deal, and it’s pretty clear the Cubs don’t feel comfortable paying him. Look at a team like Atlanta, who has a deep farm system, to be contenders for the former MVP. Contreras is also a name likely on the move. He is an incredibly talented player, but he is more expendable than others due to the organization’s depth at catcher. His two years of control also give him a boosted value that would be more appealing than a rental like Bryant.
Nobody being off-limits doesn’t mean everyone will be gone, but it’s clear the Cubs will be a very different team next year. The worst part is, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
Jed Hoyer on why he turned down so many other jobs for the past 5 years to stay with #Cubs:
"This has always been my goal. This has always been our family's goal. This is Chicago. This is the Cubs. And this is Wrigley Field. The grass is definitely not greener anywhere else."
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) November 23, 2020
Theo Epstein’s Future
Lucky for Epstein, he managed to leave before things got really bad for the Cubs, so his reputation is still as pristine as ever. The big question is now what lies ahead for the future hall of famer. Some have speculated about his interest in owning an actual team. Others say he should replace Rob Manfred as the league’s Commissioner.
It has even been rumored that Epstein might leave baseball entirely and enter politics. The thing most people are forgetting is Epstein is still only 45. Several Hall of Fame executives didn’t even get started until that age. Epstein has already has won three rings and ended baseball’s two most infamous championship droughts. He might be interested in moving on down the road, but right now, Epstein clearly still has gas in the tank.
His current plan is to sit out for at least a season and take some time off. The Phillies and Mets certainly have different plans for Epstein, considering their current front office vacancies. They both plan to pursue Epstein despite his plans to take time off. I wouldn’t say either team has a great chance at changing his mind.
If one team could, though, it would be the Mets.
Much like the Cubs and the Red Sox before his arrival, the Mets have been perennial losers. This means there’s definitely a challenge to pique Epstein’s interest. Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen also recently purchased the team. From day one, Cohen has said he is willing to pay what it takes to win. If anyone is going to make Epstein an offer he can’t refuse, it’s Cohen. But it’s still unlikely this happens.
Epstein will be running a team again soon enough, but he knows he’s the prettiest girl at the bar, so he’s going to take his sweet ass-time. In the meanwhile, he’s probably going to take some much deserved time off.
All Cubs fans will always love Epstein, and he will forever have a home in Chicago. The one thing I know for sure regarding his future? He’s going to keep winning no matter what he does, because he is the GOAT for a goddamn reason.