ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Cubs didn’t make an Opening Day splash by announcing a new contract for Theo Epstein, but that still appears to be an inevitability for the president of baseball operations who built this franchise into a World Series contender.
Tom Ricketts had “nothing to report” before Monday night’s game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, though the chairman did reengage in extension talks with Epstein near the end of spring training and sounded optimistic about finalizing the deal.
“I’d imagine we’ll get it wrapped up at some point here in the near future,” Ricketts said. “But (there’s) no deadline.”
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After supervising the Wrigley Field teardown, Epstein isn’t about to walk away and let someone else have all the fun. Now in the fifth and final year of his contract, Epstein also has a genuine appreciation for the way Ricketts believes in scouting and player development and focuses on the big picture.
“I thought they were good, productive conversations,” Epstein said. “Neither one of us had a ton of time to focus on it. It’s hard to make it a focus with so much else going on. But (there’s) no cause for concern.
“We had good talks. And it’s something we’re going to continue to talk about. I think we both feel like it’s going to get done at some point soon.”
Like as soon as the April 11 home opener? That would be one way to kick off this season in Wrigleyville.
“I don’t know,” Ricketts said. “I don’t feel a lot of super time pressure.
“I think that we’ll get to a conclusion here pretty soon.”
After collecting all this young blue-chip talent and winning 97 games last year, the Cubs reinvested some of that playoff money and took advantage of the cheap labor and spent almost $290 million on free agents this offseason.
The Cubs don’t want Epstein to hit the open market. The Ricketts family will probably have to work off the five-year, $35 million deal the Los Angeles Dodgers gave Andrew Friedman to run baseball operations (plus inflation). Epstein also wants to make sure his inner circle will be taken care of in Chicago.
“This is not a one-man operation,” Epstein said. “We’re in this together as an organization. Everyone’s got a different contract status. But our goal is to keep the group in the front office together for a long time.”