Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein will step down from his role with the team later this week and leave the organization, the club announced Tuesday.
Epstein, who guided the Cubs to the 2016 World Series championship and oversaw a massive overhaul in the team’s baseball operations department, will officially step down on Friday, the team said in a press release.
"For the rest of my life, I will cherish having been part of the great Chicago Cubs organization during this historic period,” Epstein said in a statement. “All of the things that have made this experience so special — the fans, the players, the managers and coaches, ownership, my front office colleagues, the uniqueness of the Wrigley experience, the history — make it so tough to leave the Cubs. But I believe this is the right decision for me even if it’s a difficult one."
Epstein had previously hinted that he could leave the organization when his contract expired following the 2021 season, but he says that now is the right time to depart as the team faces serious decisions in its future.
"Now is the right time rather than a year from now," he said. "The organization faces a number of decisions this winter that carry long-term consequences; those types of decisions are best made by someone who will be here for a long period rather than just one more year. Jed has earned this opportunity and is absolutely the right person to take over this baseball operation at such an important time."
=General Manager Jed Hoyer will take over the role as the new president of baseball operations.
"I am thrilled that this leadership transition will provide continuity to a department that has had tremendous successes over the past six seasons," Hoyer said. "Ultimately, this transition is about the future, and I look forward to constantly pushing the Cubs to evolve and grow to ensure that there is sustained success at Wrigley Field.”
Epstein signed with the Cubs prior to the 2012 season, and was the guiding force behind a massive rebuilding project for the team. Under his guidance, the Cubs drafted several key players, including Kris Bryant and Ian Happ, and made several significant trades, acquiring players like Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks.
Epstein’s biggest moves came in the free agent market, as the team inked former manager Joe Maddon and pitcher Jon Lester to lucrative contracts prior to the 2015 season.
Those moves paved the way for a long string of playoff success, as the team made the NLCS in three consecutive years and won their first World Series title in 108 years when they defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 Fall Classic.
Now, after first round exits by the Cubs in the 2018 and 2020 playoffs, Epstein will step aside as the team prepares for another shift in its organizational philosophy. He had hinted at potentially stepping down during his postseason press conference, but now he will exit the organization and pave the way for Hoyer to guide the club through what could be a tumultuous time in the coming months.
Bryant and Rizzo are both set to become free agents after the 2021 season. Lester has already hit free agency, and big decisions will also loom on the contracts of players like Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez.
According to a report by MLB Network's Jon Morosi, Epstein intends to take the 2021 season off, meaning that he will likely not be in contention for prominent roles that have opened up with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.