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Cubs’ Theo Epstein stepping down as president of baseball operations

Epstein, who led the franchise to a World Series crown in 2016, will be replaced by current general manager Jed Hoyer.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is leaving the team.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is leaving the team.
Gregory Bull/AP

Theo Epstein is stepping down as the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, the team announced Tuesday, and general manager Jed Hoyer will be promoted to the position.

The move comes amid an offseason of expected change in the organization, with Epstein being the first domino to fall.

‘‘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 always has been honest about his thoughts on having a new voice in an organization after a certain time. During his end-of-season news conference last month, he didn’t shy away from the possibility that he and the Cubs would part ways. But he often used the words ‘‘transition’’ and ‘‘change’ when speaking about what his future with the franchise was.

After reflecting on some of the ramifications the coronavirus pandemic would have on future decisions, Epstein decided now was the right time to make a move.

‘‘Many of you are aware that I’ve always planned to be with the Cubs for about 10 years,’’ Epstein said at a news conference Tuesday. ‘‘Because of that, [chairman] Tom [Ricketts] and I had been in communication for the last several years about a possible transition and to try to figure out a way to execute a transition that would be best for the Cubs, put the organization in the best possible position and also be good for me.

‘‘It became really clear that we’d be facing some significant long-term decisions this winter, decisions with long-term impacts. And, you know, those types of decisions are really best made by somebody who’s going to be here for a long time, not just for one more year. Somebody who’s invested in the organization for the long haul.’’

Epstein, 46, came to the Cubs in October 2011 and has been in charge of their return to respectability and credibility in the sport. Under his leadership, the Cubs went 705-651 with five postseason appearances, three trips to the National League Championship Series and a 2016 World Series title.

‘‘Theo came in nine years ago, he hit the ground running, put together a brilliant staff and early on promised us sustained success,’’ Ricketts said. ‘‘To a Cubs fan, that was a foreign concept. But then, after a few years of hard work and rebuilding the organization, he delivered sustained success.

‘‘Not only did we have the 2016 World Series — which, of course, was the most remarkable and memorable World Series of all time — we had great playoff runs in years around that. And we sustained that success to go to the playoffs five of the last six years and be considered a contender every year.’’

According to a source, Hoyer will be signing a contract extension to remain with the Cubs for the long term. With Hoyer becoming the new president of baseball operations, the search now will begin for a GM.

‘‘Jed is ready to take over; he really is,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘He’s been a huge part of all our success here and has been a huge part of my success in my career.’’

The Cubs might look outside the organization for a GM, but they also could hire a candidate internally. Several members of the front office have been sought after around baseball in recent years. Senior vice president of player personnel Jason McLeod was a finalist for the Angels’ GM opening, and former assistant GM Scott Harris was hired as the Giants’ GM in 2019.

Assistant GMs Randy Bush and Jeff Greenberg are also highly regarded in the organization.