In a surprising turn of events, the Boston Red Sox announced that Theo Epstein is making a comeback, this time as a senior advisor to Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and part-owner of the team. This news has left many in the industry taken aback. Still, there’s more to this decision than meets the eye, particularly regarding the timing of this return.
Insiders familiar with the arrangement between Epstein and the Red Sox suggest that his return is partly driven by the acknowledgment within Red Sox ownership that, at times, the team hasn’t received the attention it deserves. This oversight has occurred as FSG’s portfolio has expanded rapidly.
Epstein’s role as a senior advisor will involve re-establishing the processes and lines of communication that were instrumental in the Red Sox’s success during his tenure as general manager from 2003 to 2011. Despite public affirmations from team president Sam Kennedy and others about the ownership’s commitment to the Red Sox, there has been an internal realization that the team needs to become a higher priority within FSG. Winning back fans after several last-place finishes in recent years and a disappointing offseason is paramount.
Epstein’s role extends beyond the Red Sox; he will be involved in all of FSG’s properties, which include Liverpool FC, the Pittsburgh Penguins, RFK Racing, Boston Common Golf, and more. His responsibilities encompass consulting on strategic growth and investment initiatives across the entire portfolio.
While Epstein will lend his expertise to various ventures, it’s evident that his experience with the Red Sox will be central to his role. He will primarily operate from his Connecticut home, focusing on processes rather than day-to-day operations. His presence will allow him to evaluate the organization comprehensively and provide a listening ear to key individuals with whom he has history and trust.
Epstein’s connections within the Red Sox organization are noteworthy, including his close relationship with team president Mike Gordon, principal owner John Henry, and chairman Tom Werner. He also serves as a mentor to chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, who benefited from Epstein’s guidance when he first entered the front office in 2019. This official role will grant Epstein access to insider information and a chance to influence decisions within the organization.
His previous successful working relationship with Henry and Werner positions him as an influential figure with both owners. Epstein’s ability to manage personalities and his track record of success could encourage the team to explore unconventional moves. However, it’s noted that such influence may not impact the current winter season, given the advanced stage of free agent signings and the team’s commitment to developing talent internally while maintaining a strict payroll limit.
The Red Sox’s pursuit of Epstein dates back to the late summer of the previous year, but they faced competition from other teams interested in his services. Epstein, now 50, has long aspired to own a team or take on a significant role in an expansion team. His decision to join FSG aligns with his desire to gain insights into the inner workings of high-level organizations across various sports.
This move underscores the Red Sox’s ongoing efforts to strengthen their organizational infrastructure, marked by the recent focus on pitching development with key hires in that department. As Epstein returns to his baseball roots, the baseball world watches closely to see how his influence will shape the future of the Boston Red Sox.