Why Theo Would Jump to the Cubs

Earlier in the week, Buster Olney reported that the Chicago Cubs could inquire about Theo Epstein to fill their GM position, left vacant after the recent dismissal of Jim Hendry. Logic suggests that Theo, who is a Boston native and has one year remaining on his contract, would be difficult to pry from his Fenway office. But the 38-year-old has expressed past interest in the Cubs organization, so what could Chicago offer to sway Epstein?

A Promotion
If the Cubs came calling, it would likely be with an offer for Epstein to become president of baseball operations, as well as the team's GM. In Boston, Theo serves as the GM under team president/CEO Larry Lucchino. Chicago could give him more power and a significant raise. Epstein currently makes $1.5 million annually. Whether or not he remains with the Red Sox, he's due a big payday when his contract expires next year.

Lucchino's future with the team could play a crucial role in re-signing Epstein. The two have had differences in the past and several sources list Lucchino as a candidate to replace Bud Selig as MLB commissioner after 2012. He could also be a potential buyer of the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Lucchino parted ways with the Red Sox, John Henry would surely make the presidency available to Epstein.

A Challenge
Put simply, the Cubs team is a mess right now. Torpedoed by horrendous contracts, personalities, and on-the-field performance, the Cubbies are officially and considerably worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, the Cubs have resources as large as any team not named the Red Sox or Yankees, and they are perpetually a couple good moves from contention.

Not that being the GM of the Boston Red Sox is easy by any means, but Chicago would truly put Theo Epstein's talents to the test. The task: With virtually no tradeable assets, revitalize a weak farm system and build a competitive Major-League squad. In other words, the Cubs need some very shrewd draft picks and signings, without the luxury of being able to miss big on a John Lackey or JD Drew.

To remain an elite team for the next 10 years, the Red Sox need only worry about keeping their young players under contract. The Cubs, on the other hand, need to be rebuilt by someone that can press all the right buttons. That challenge may appeal to Theo.

A Chicago Legacy
If Theo won a World Series with the Cubs, he would be the savior of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises and cement himself as one of the best GM's of all-time. Hall of Fame? Undoubtedly. And while he's revered for constructing a dominant Red Sox team, Theo has never been completely beloved as a public figure. Maybe it's just his business-first approach. Or his secretive nature. Or the whole gorilla thing. Who knows.

But Chicago would LOVE him. The level of devotion among Chicago fans can't be discounted, particularly the North Siders, whose iconic sports figures tend to reach godly levels. The Cubs faithful haven't had much to be excited about since Dusty Baker massacred the arms of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

Needless to say, Epstein would receive a hero's welcome. He's a son of Boston, but "King of Chicago" would have some serious perks.

Is Theo Epstein actually going to Chicago? Doubtful. The Cubs need to hire a GM now, meaning John Henry would have to let Epstein out of his current contract. It's difficult to imagine Theo wanting to leave that badly--he's reportedly content in Boston--making assistant GM Ben Cherington a more practical candidate for the Cubs.

Ideally, the Red Sox organization will remain focused on fall baseball, without the threat of another gorilla wandering Yawkey Way.