Cubs owner: Theo Epstein deserves to be baseball’s top-paid exec

SHARE Cubs owner: Theo Epstein deserves to be baseball’s top-paid exec

MESA, Ariz. – Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and team president Theo Epstein appear to be close to starting talks on a contract extension for the head of baseball operations that has been the subject of questions and speculation for more than a year.

Specific terms have not been discussed, say multiple sources, but Epstein is expected to become the highest-paid baseball executive in the game by the time a deal is done – something even Ricketts suggested Wednesday.

“I think he’s the best at what he does in the game, and I think from a compensation standpoint it should be reflected,” Ricketts said. “We had dinner [Tuesday] night. We’re on the same page. We just have to sit down and hammer it out.”

Industry sources say they expect Epstein to get a five-year deal worth between $45 million and $50 million.

Sixteen months ago, Andrew Friedman was hired away from the small market Rays and reportedly paid $35 million for five years to head the Dodgers’ baseball department. Since then, the Giants promoted three-time World Series-winning general manager Brian Sabean to a similar post and gave him a three-year contract, and Dave Dombrowski left his GM job with the Tigers to become team president of the Boston Red Sox.

Terms have not been reported on either of those contracts.

Epstein is in the final year of his original, five-year, $18.5 million deal, and by all accounts there is no drama holding up the process, with both sides adamant about their commitment to each other.

“We agree on the fundamentals,” Epstein said Friday, suggesting something could get done this spring.

“I don’t know how other owners and their heads of baseball get along, but I can’t imagine a better relationship than what Theo and I have,” Ricketts said Wednesday. “It’s not a very high stress conversation. It’s a matter of let’s just think it through and get it done.”

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