Wow. Despite dozens of reports claiming Theo Epstein accepted the most recent deal offered by the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Herald reports he is walking away. It was believed Theo was looking for a 3 year, $1.5 million and the Red Sox gave it to him. However, despite my earlier assumptions to the contrary, the inter-office politicking between Epstein and Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino was too much for Theo to handle.
Good for him I say. First of all, it’s high time Theo moves out of Lucchino’s shadow to prove he can succeed without his mentor. The relationship between GM and boss must be complementary, it should not overlap as much as it does in Boston. Of course nowhere is this intrusion more apparent than in New York; but Brian Cashman made sure to address this issue in his new deal with a “document of philosophy” explaining how he believes the chain of command should operate.
Second, Theo deserves much more than the $1.5 million at which he valued himself – a rare miscalculation by the virtuoso GM. In the Boston Globe’s article reporting Theo’s impending signing there were plenty of examples listing higher paid GMs – many with less success.
Atlanta GM John Schuerholz makes $1.6 million per year. Brian Cashman recently accepted a three-year extension for close to $6 million. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski earns a reported $2 million per year, but he also serves as club president. Oakland GM Billy Beane makes a reported $1 million-plus, though his compensation package includes an ownership stake in the club. Beane was offered $12.5 million over five seasons by the Sox before they hired Epstein, and that offer bolstered Epstein’s resolve during negotiations.
Maybe Theo realized that going out on top, while having the short term implication of unemployment, would increase his value in the long term.
The long term in this case seemingly will have to wait a year. The Herald claims, “The Dodgers, Phillies and Devil Rays currently have GM vacancies but it is believed that Epstein is likely to take a year off from baseball before considering a return.” While this might be true, the Phillies cannot take any chances: this increases their urgency. Theo’s free agency could inflate the price for a quality GM. Plus, now that the Red Sox and Dodgers are now in search for a GM the Phillies need to stake their claim. We all know the Phils can’t compete with the Sox on the field, but this is certainly true off the field as well.
Update: Todd Zolecki reports an announcement could come within the next two days and Gillick is now the frontrunnner. Nonetheless, the LA Times claims the Dodgers have asked to speak with the USC grad.