CHICAGO (AP) - Theo Epstein is leaving the Boston Red Sox after a remarkable run that included two World Series championships. He’s joining the Chicago Cubs to see if he can bring success to another team steeped in history and starved for a title.
The 37-year-old Epstein became the president of baseball operations for the Cubs on Friday night after resigning with a year left on his contract as general manager of the Red Sox.
With Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox ended an 86-year World Series championship drought in 2004 and won the title again in 2007.
Cubs fans can only hope he will do the same thing on the North Side where the Cubs are looking for their first title since 1908. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts fired GM Jim Hendry in July after another disappointing season, although Hendry stayed on the job for an extra month.
The teams negotiated for more than a week over compensation the Red Sox would receive for letting Epstein out of his contract. In the end, they decided to put off that issue, saying it would be resolved in the near term.
The Red Sox are expected to announce assistant GM Ben Cherington as Epstein’s replacement. Boston, which collapsed in September and missed the playoffs for a second straight year, must also find a new manager to replace Terry Francona.
One of the first chores in Chicago is the future of manager Mike Quade, who led the team to a 71-91 record in his first full season. He has another year left on his deal.
Various reports say the Cubs are also interested in hiring San Diego Padres general manager Jed Hoyer for that position where he would be reunited with Epstein. They worked together in Boston.
Epstein will reportedly receive a five-year deal worth about $18.5 million to overhaul the baseball side of the Cubs’ front office.
In a joint statement, the teams said they would hold news conferences on Tuesday with the Cubs introducing Epstein and with the Red Sox announcing his successor _ likely Cherington.
Major League Baseball generally prohibits announcements during the World Series, but Friday’s late one came on a day off for the Cardinals and Rangers.
The Cubs and Red Sox said they would not comment until Tuesday, another travel day for the World Series if it goes beyond five games.
Epstein brings a sparkling resume with him. He was hired as the youngest GM in major league history in 2002 at the age of 28 and, two years later, was the youngest GM to win it all as the Red Sox broke a long championship drought of their own _ 86 years, not unlike the misery Cubs fans have famously endured.
Under Epstein’s guidance, Boston went 839-619 (.575) in the regular season and 34-23 in the playoffs, winning more than 90 games in all but two seasons.
He acquired stars such as David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Jason Bay and Adrian Gonzalez, though he also will be remembered for bringing in high-priced players who fell short, including Edgar Renteria, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey. This season it was Carl Crawford who didn’t meet expectations after signing a fat contract.