Orioles

Here's why Theo Epstein isn't coming to Baltimore

Orioles

Just about any Major League Baseball team would be happy to have longtime general manager and team president Theo Epstein in their front office. Epstein was the youngest GM in MLB history when he was hired by the Red Sox in 2002, and he was the architect of the team that broke their 86-year championship drought when they won the World Series in 2004.

He then went to Chicago, where he took on a bigger role for the Cubsas president of baseball operations. And in 2016, another team he built snapped a historic record, when the Cubs broke a 108-year World Series drought of their own.

Epstein's resume speaks for itself, but after a few post-title down seasons in Chicago, he announced Tuesday that he would be resigning from the organization.

Almost immediately, fans of nearly every team in the league began to speculate that he might be a target for their own franchises in need of a reset. But one team that wouldn't be a fit? The Baltimore Orioles.

The O's haven't won a World Series since 1983, one of the longer active streaks in baseball, and Epstein's reputation as a championship GM would be appealing in Baltimore. But the Orioles have hitched their wagon to a young, rising star executive of their own in Mike Elias.

Elias is in the same mold as Epstein was with a Red Sox, an unusually young GM who is trying to rebuild a franchise from top to bottom. He was hired just two years ago, and everyone in the organization - from the Angelos family down - admitted they knew this was going to be a long-term rebuilding effort.

 

Ownership also made it clear that Elias was the top dog, with the final say on any personnel decisions. Hiring Epstein to be the team's president, above Elias' role as Executive Vice President, would create an unnecessary power struggle.

Some teams with larger payrolls and higher expectations demand faster results, but the Orioles have preached patience at every opportunity since bringing in Elias in November 2018. It would go against everything they have said in the last two years to jump ship just to pursue Epstein.

More importantly, Elias has seen terrific results in the minor leagues already. Success in the farm system leads to success in the majors, and the Orioles are on the right path. Two years ago, their farm system was regularly ranked in the bottom five in all of baseball. Now, they are in the top ten according to many experts, and will be adding another top-five overall pick in the 2021 draft. They've also re-established themselves in Latin America under Elias' leadership, an area that will continue to pay dividends in the coming years.

Every Orioles fan was thrilled to add Elias in 2018, and most are still over the moon about him in 2020. It wouldn't makes sense to consider moving on from him now.

It may not ultimately matter, as Epstein's letter to the fans announcing his resignation heavily implied he wouldn't be in any MLB team's front office in 2021. But if he does get back to work next season, it's a safe bet that it won't be in Baltimore.