Theo Epstein has done an incredible job rebuilding a previously moribund franchise with the Chicago Cubs. He’s taken the Northsiders from a perennial punch-line to the best team in baseball with a thorough top-to-bottom reconstruction. Now ownership has rewarded him with a staggering five-year extension that could net him upwards of $50 million.
Since taking over as president of baseball operations in October of 2011, Epstein has been on a mission to blow up and rebuild the Cubs. He started by investing heavily in a previously barren farm system and building it into a behemoth that was the envy of all baseball. Many of those prospects have now graduated to the big leagues and are producing. He also went out and made big-money signings (Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist) that showed Chicago meant business, and completed deft trades that netted him franchise cornerstones (Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo).
The result has been evident on the field over the last two seasons. The Cubs went 97-65 in 2015 before losing in the NLCS. This year they’ve built on that. Entering Wednesday Chicago has baseball’s best record (101-56) by 8.5 games.
Epstein’s tenure has been an exercise in patience, as the team went 200-286 in his first three seasons. But he stayed the course and the organization has flourished as a result. After winning two World Series with the Boston Red Sox, he’s not on the verge of repeating the feat with another supposedly cursed team.
There’s no doubt he’s baseball’s best executive right now and his salary will now reflect that.