By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s no reason to worry about president of baseball operations Theo Epstein running out on the Chicago Cubs anytime soon. Epstein’s in the fifth and final year of an $18.5-million deal he signed in October 2011, but he downplayed his contract situation Friday on the opening night of the Cubs Convention.READ MORE: New ILogin Verification System Is Locking Out Illinoisans Trying To File Unemployment Claims
“Everything is (fine),” Epstein replied when asked about an extension. “We are completely on the same page. We just haven’t gotten around to hammering out an actual contract.”
The pay for team presidents has skyrocketed in the last two years. In October 2011, Epstein became the second-highest paid front office executive in the game. In his final contract year now, he’s in the middle of the pack in salary. The highest-paid president of baseball operations is the Dodgers’ Andrew Friedman, who can earn between $7 million to $9 million a year, depending on bonuses and incentives.
Epstein walked away from the Red Sox in 2005 for nearly three months over a contract dispute before returning. Don ‘t look for that happen with the Cubs, though.
Owner Tom Ricketts indicated last week on WSCR 670 The Score that he expects Epstein to be around for a long time.
“We all agree Theo has done an OK job,” Ricketts joked.
Epstein will likely be getting a five-year extension from the Cubs, sources said.READ MORE: Dolton Police Involved In Incident Where Shots Were Fired On Bishop Ford Freeway
The Cubs have revamped their entire organization and farm system in the past four-plus years. The front office has done a solid job with international signings, in drafting and in making astute trades under the guidance of Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and scouting guru Jason McLeod.
That work culminated in a 97-win season in 2015 and a trip to the NLCS and has the Cubs primed as a World Series favorite entering 2016.
“I only think about this subject when (the media asks),” Epstein said of extension talks. “I see myself staying in the exact same role for a long time. I think Tom sees it the same way. At some point, we will get around to doing a contract extension. I think players deserve contracts first, before front office guys. We are not done with our players yet. Jake (Arrieta) deserves a contract before I do. We will take care of that situation first. At the right time, we will address my situation. It’s not the smallest concern to me whatsoever.”
Epstein wants to get extensions for his key front office people as much as a deal done for himself.
“A lot of our guys have deals that extend out into the future,” Epstein said. “Jed’s deal is up the same time mine is. I imagine once my deal is done, Jed’s will follow in short order.”
The Cubs fan base seem as concerned as the media is interested in the 42-year-old Epstein’s future.
“I really appreciate that,” Epstein said of the fan interest. “There is just not a lot to talk about it now. We have a team, and we are ready to roll. We are ready to go into spring training and compete. This never used to be a story, when the GM was under contract for another year. I guess it is now. I guess I wasn’t very good at it in the past (the dispute with the Red Sox), the stuff in Boston. This will take care of itself. Tom and I could not have a better relationship. It will take care of itself in short order.”MORE NEWS: CDC Issues Warning About Salmonella Outbreak Involving Onions Imported From Mexico; 37 Cases In Illinois
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.