Posted on September 29, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Chicago Cubs and Theo Epstein, the team’s President of Baseball Operations, have agreed to a five-year contract extension worth close to $50 million. The extension comes on the tail end of a season in which the Cubs have been by far the best team in baseball, as well favorites to win the 2016 World Series.
Epstein first came to Chicago in 2011 after serving as GM of the Boston Red Sox for nine years. He signed with the Cubs for five years and $18.5 million. With his contact set to expire after the season, there was some uncertainty over whether he would stay in Chicago beyond this season or leave in search of a new challenge after building the Cubs into a powerhouse. That uncertainty has been put to rest after Epstein and the Cubs agreed to a new five-year contract that’s worth close to $50 million.
Exact terms were not released, but the base salary of Epstein’s deal is said to be just under $50 million. However, with incentives the contract has a chance to be worth more than that amount. The deal between Epstein and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was reached on Saturday. The team was set to announce the deal on Sunday, but pushed back their announcement following the tragic death of Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez.
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Despite how long it took to reach an agreement, Ricketts says he was certain since spring training that an extension would get done. “I told him I thought he was the best in the game at what he did, and he told me no matter what I paid him he wasn’t going to leave Chicago, so we were off to a good start,” Ricketts explained. “The time and energy to do it the right way has paid off with a team that should be successful for years to come.”
“It’s everything I could have asked for. There is no place I’d rather be,” Epstein said Wednesday. “I’m thrilled this worked out.”
During his five years with the Cubs, Epstein has assembled one of the most talented rosters in baseball that also happens to be one of the youngest rosters in baseball. The Cubs have a core of young position players in Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell, among others, who are poised to carry the franchise for years to come. Epstein has also attracted some of the game’s best free agents, including Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and John Lackey, who all signed with the team last offseason.
Ricketts told reporters Wednesday how amazed he was that the plan Epstein laid out early in his tenure with the team has come to fruition right on schedule, if not sooner than expected. “With the exception of the fact we had an incredible second half last year that I don’t think anybody expected, things have kind of moved forward in a way that is just kind of as we planned. It’s been pretty incredible.,” Ricketts said.
The Cubs are also planning to give extensions to GM Jed Hoyer and player development executive Jason McLeod later this week, keeping their front office together for the next half decade. “The goal is to keep a really strong executive team together and keep building on the success we’ve started to achieve,” explains Ricketts.
With or without Epstein beyond this year, the Cubs are already in great shape to have sustained success and be one of the top contenders in the National League for many years to come. Retaining Epstein for five more years further solidifies the fact that the Cubs have a bright future ahead of them.