BOSTON, MAThe Boston Red Sox and Theo Epstein today announced that the Senior Vice President/General Manager has declined the clubs offer to extend his contract for future years and thus will step down from his post.
Epstein will continue, however, to work with the organization for several days to assist in an orderly transition and to prepare further for the upcoming GM meetings and other off-season activities.
The 31-year-old Epstein was reportedly offered about $4.5 million for a three-year extension -- quadruple his previous salary. But it was still short of the $2.5 million a year the Red Sox offered Oakland's Billy Beane in 2002 before making Epstein the youngest GM in baseball history.
Epstein grew up blocks away from Fenway Park and worked for Lucchino with the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres. A lifelong Red Sox fan, Epstein was brought to Boston to be the assistant GM and promoted to his dream job in 2002, about five weeks before his 29th birthday.
A devotee of statistical analysis who values his scouts as well, Epstein's tenure has been marked by bold adventures that often conflicted with baseball orthodoxy:
--He signed first baseman Kevin Millar, despite an unspoken agreement not to poach from Japanese clubs.
--He went without a traditional closer in his first year, with disastrous results.
--He tried to trade for reigning MVP Alex Rodriguez -- a deal that would have meant shipping out Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra -- and then, without remorse, pulled the plug when the deal became too expensive.
--He ate Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling in a college football-style recruiting trip that lured the right-handed ace to Boston.
--He traded Garciaparra, the face of the franchise, for the parts he needed to complete the World Series puzzle.
But the efforts have paid off.
The Red Sox reached the AL championship series in 2003 before the lack of a closer doomed Grady Little in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium. The next year, with a new manager and the closer it had lacked, the ballclub won its first World Series in 86 years.
Boston reached the postseason for a third consecutive year this season before getting swept by the Chicago White Sox in the first round.
The Dodgers, Phillies and Devil Rays have GM openings, but none has a $120 million payroll to match the one Epstein was given in Boston.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this story)