CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs announced Theo Epstein is stepping down as team president on Friday and will be succeeded by general manger Jed Hoyer.
Epstein spent nine years at the helm of the Cubs, spearheading a rebuilding effort that resulted in five postseason appearances and a World Series title in 2016.
While most expected Epstein, 46, to leave after his contract ended in 2021, the decision was made to resign now and give Hoyer the opportunity to revamp the roster, which is expected to undergo many changes.
Epstein, earlier in his career, once visited Yuba City High School to scout former Honker and Gold Sox slugger Max Stassi, according to reports.
"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. And now is the right time rather than a year from now. The organization faces a number of decisions this winter that carry long-term consequences; those types of decisions are best made by someone who will be here for a long period rather than just one more year. Jed has earned this opportunity and is absolutely the right person to take over this baseball operation at such an important time."
Epstein did not reveal his post-Cubs plans, but has said in the past that he would be interested in the ownership of a team. Many have suggested a career in politics, but Epstein has not shown interest in going that route.
"As for what I will do next, I'm not precisely sure, though I have a few things in mind," Epstein said in a letter to Cubs co-workers. "Next summer will be my first in 30 years not clocking into work every day at a major league ballpark. Believe me, it has been a blast, but I'm looking forward to the increased time to spend with family, to explore, and to follow a few different pursuits."
Epstein has three World Series rings, including 2004 and '07 championships with the Boston Red Sox. He is one of five executives all time to lead multiple organizations to World Series titles, and the fourth to accomplish that feat in both leagues, along with Hall of Famers Pat Gillick and John Schuerholz, and Dave Dombrowski.
"Theo and I have been communicating about this possible move for a couple of years, and we have been working together toward a transition that makes sense for the Cubs and for him," said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts in a statement. "The timing is right for a number of reasons, and most importantly we are both thrilled that Jed is the person succeeding Theo."
Hoyer, 46, began his career in Boston and served as general manager in San Diego in 2010-11 before rejoining Epstein in Chicago. He was considered the heir apparent to Epstein, his longtime friend, and now will get the chance to run an organization on his own.
"I am thrilled that this leadership transition will provide continuity to a department that has had tremendous successes over the past six seasons," Hoyer said in a statement. "Ultimately, this transition is about the future, and I look forward to constantly pushing the Cubs to evolve and grow to ensure that there is sustained success at Wrigley Field."