During his tenure in Chicago, Cubs President Theo Epstein has transformed the team from doormat to top dog in the baseball world, and on Monday night he received one of the sport’s most prestigious honors.
At the annual G.M. meetings in Arizona, it was announced that Epstein was the 2016 recipient of the Sporting News MLB Executive of the Year award. The award, which has been handed out since 1936, recognizes the best executive in the league, and it is voted on by 56 MLB executives.
While Epstein would be quick to deflect credit onto G.M. Jed Hoyer and farm system guru Jason McLeod, the reality is that the team has taken on the identity that he wanted it to since the day he took control of the front office.
The Cubs have not only drafted well during that time, grabbing guys like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, but they’ve also made the right combination of signings (Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist) and trades (Addison Russell, Jake Arrieta) to put themselves in a position to be perennial contenders.
The award is strictly a regular season award, but that doesn’t’ diminish the scope of Epstein’s accomplishments this season. The Cubs won 103 games, their highest win total in over 100 years, and they won the Central Division by 17 and a half games over the St. Louis Cardinals for their first division title since the 2008 season.