Red Sox Owners Admitting Mistake Led to Theo Epstein's Return

Boston Red Sox ownership admitting its faults played a role in Theo Epstein's return to the club.
Apr 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox owner John Henry at Fenway Park before a
Apr 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox owner John Henry at Fenway Park before a / Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

At the Boston Red Sox Winter Weekend in Jan. 2023, baseball content producer and noted Red Sox aficionado Jared Carrabis had a simple question for principal owner John Henry and club president and CEO Sam Kennedy: "This is something that I've come across a lot on Twitter and social media - fans asking, because there is a portfolio here with different interests - are the Red Sox still a top priority?"

Asked point blank, Henry had an opportunity to unequivocally reaffirm his commitment to the franchise amidst the expansion of Fenway Sports Group. FSG's most noteworthy subsidiaries include Liverpool F.C. and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and last week FSG closed a $3 billion investment deal with the PGA Tour. It should have been a softball question.

Despite making a sarcastic gesture to check his watch, Henry couldn't be bothered to give Carrabis the time of day and instead left Kennedy to answer the entirety of the question. Well, recent reporting regarding former general manager Theo Epstein's return to Boston has given credence to what Carrabis, and so many other Red Sox fans have passionately felt for years.

From MassLive's Chris Cotillo and Sean McAdam:

"According to people with an understanding of the arrangement between Epstein and the Red Sox, he was brought back into the fold, at least in part, due to Red Sox ownership privately acknowledging that they have, at times, not given the club the attention it has deserved in recent years as the FSG portfolio has rapidly grown."

Chris Cotillo and Sean McAdam

On Friday, it was reported that Epstein would be joining FSG as a senior adviser. The 50-year-old served as Red Sox GM from 2003-2011, capturing World Series rings in 2004 and 2007. Epstein will forever be revered in Boston as the architect behind the '04 team that snapped the franchise's 86-year drought.

Despite ranking as baseball's third-most valuable team, Boston has been largely MIA in free agency while employing a player personnel approach that emphasizes affordable, contract-controllable players while de-emphasizing spending on high-end talent. Simply put, the Red Sox have operated as a small market team in past years, with the Mookie Betts trade in Feb. 2020 perhaps the most egregious inflection point.

Boston's offseason (or lack thereof) has begun to catch the eye of national writers. On Tuesday, renowned MLB sportswriter Ken Rosenthal didn't hold back, saying that the Red Sox aren't "trying the way they should be trying" this offseason and stating "it's inexplicable to me the way they're running this thing".

News of Epstein's return also broke at an interesting time. Last Wednesday, the announcement that FSG had reached a private equity agreement with the PGA Tour once again fanned the flames of the narrative that the Red Sox ranked low on the list of FSG's priorities. On Thursday night, divisional foes Baltimore Orioles acquired ace Corbin Burnes in a blockbuster trade, the exact type of move that the 2010s Red Sox would have been in on. Boston was due for some good news, and the timing of the Epstein reunion was convenient.

Bringing Epstein, a revered figure among Red Sox fans, back into the fold might bought some goodwill for ownership from the fanbase, but it should be regarded more as a relative act of reconciliation. Until his presence is evident on the transaction wire, Red Sox fans should curb their optimism.

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