At 46 years of age, Theo Epstein's legacy in baseball is secure. As the chief architect of teams that ended a combined 194 years worth of World Series title droughts, Epstein will always be in the conversation of baseball's all-time great executives. He is arguably the most successful executive in the history of both the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, two of the flagship franchises in baseball, teams that play their games in the two most storied venues in the game.
That, really, is the summation of where Epstein stands on the day news came that he is stepping down as Cubs president of baseball operations.
It's hard not to think back nine years ago, when Epstein left the Red Sox and, shortly after, joined the Cubs. He left the Red Sox in a better place than he found it, though he did not get the ball rolling in Boston. That credit goes to Epstein's mentor, Larry Lucchino. But it was Epstein who carried it across the finish line, winning two titles in 10 years as the Red Sox became an economic and on-the-field powerhouse.
The challenge in Chicago was different for Epstein. When he took over baseball operations for the club on Oct. 12, 2011, the Cubs were in a bad place. The payroll was bloated. The minor-league pipeline was sputtering. And to say that Chicago's baseball processes were behind the times would be a massive understatement.