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Hot topic: Theo Epstein to the Cubs?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 24, 2011 12:46 PM

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ESPN's Buster Olney is pondering the idea (subscription required) that the Chicago Cubs could hire Theo Epstein as their president.

He wrote:

In years past, some friends say, Epstein has talked about the Cubs' organization as a place with extraordinary growth potential and as a unique challenge. When Epstein took over the Red Sox, Boston had had more than eight decades of frustration before it finally won the World Series in 2004.

Keep in mind that Epstein has carved out a strong position under Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner, and friends say he has a deep loyalty to the Boston organization -- and keep in mind that Boston is his hometown and that Epstein is in the middle of his current contract.

But that would not preclude the Cubs from calling the Red Sox and asking whether they could talk to Epstein, presumably with the potential offer of some kind of promotion, such as a club presidency with oversight of baseball operations. There's no telling how Henry would react or how [Cubs owner Tom] Ricketts would handle that situation or what Epstein would want until those conversations take place.

In spring training, John Henry spoke confidently about the idea of Epstein staying with the Red Sox and negotiating a new contract. He would not have said that without a reason to. But it's worth noting that Epstein turns 38 in December and by then will have completed nine years as the GM of the Sox. He has been in baseball since 1992.

Given the rigors of the job, Epstein will not be the GM of the Red Sox until he retires. Becoming a team president would be a step up and represent a chance to influence an organization beyond the roster.

Epstein also has varied interests outside of baseball and could seek a career outside of the sport entirely. Epstein is a phone call away from sitting down with the CEO of virtually any company and discussing employment. There's also a best-selling book waiting to be written. He could teach, run a philanthropic organization, or perhaps join MLB in some capacity.

The other wild card is team president Larry Lucchino. If he leaves the Red Sox to become commissioner or run the Dodgers once they are sold, that would create an appealing opening within the hierarchy of the Red Sox.

All these machinations are for another day and such speculation about what the Red Sox could do is likely pointless. Epstein has assembled a team with a chance to win the World Series and abandoning his post now is unlikely. It's equally hard to imagine the Cubs, hapless as they are, waiting another two months to make their moves.

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