Rather than share authority on baseball decisions with, much less defer to, team President Larry Luchino, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein surprised the baseball world with his sudden resignation today.
Losing Epstein may or may not be a blow to the Sox in the long run - time will tell - but losing their GM right at the start of the free agency period could prove to be disastrous.
The contracts of Johnny Damon and possibly Bill Mueller, John Olerud and Mike Meyers have yet to be negotiated, not to mention those of the outside players the Sox will turn to in an effort to fill holes in their pitching staff as well as first base.
To have rejected a three-year deal worth $1.5 million per year, Epstein was clearly concerned about issues other than money. The offer would have made him one of the most highly compensated GM's in baseball. After initially declining offers of $850,000 and $1.2 million per year, it seemed that the most recent Sox offer would seal the deal. No such luck.
According to Curt Schilling, Theo's departure won't go over well in the clubhouse. "It's obviously going to be an incredibly unpopular decision with the players."
Look for Padres GM Kevin Towers, and old friend and confidant of Larry Luchino's from his San Diego days, to replace Epstein. Towers has been unhappy with his lack of authority in the Padres organization - sound familiar? - and is looking for a change. He interviewed for the Diamondbacks GM spot, which was recently assumed by Epstein’s top assistant, Josh Byrnes.
Whoever the Sox choose to replace Epstein, they will likely move quickly to fill that vacancy. There is no time to waste. Most free agent deals will be consummated by the end of November, which doesn't leave the club much time to act. So the timing of Epstein's announcement could hardly have come at a less opportune moment.
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