Betting Odds Favor Theo Epstein Joining Mets, Recent Developments Support That Notion

Theo Epstein said during his farewell address that he wants to take at least a year off after “punching the clock” at the ballpark every day for a quarter century, but will his competitive drive allow him to do that? The siren song of turning around yet another franchise could be too great to ignore, particularly if said franchise has an owner who’s willing to back Epstein’s plays with boatloads of money.

That’s why the odds at Bet Online have the Mets (+125) favored to lure the future Hall of Fame exec, followed closely by the Phillies (+150). Interestingly enough, replacing the universally reviled Rob Manfred as MLB commissioner (+500) is tied with the Mariners for the third-best odds. Props — pun fully intended — to Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago for noting this first.

Wittenmyer’s tweet actually displays the odds in fractional form, which is probably easier for the non-gamblers among you to understand. So that means the Mets are at 5/4, the Phillies are 3/2, and becoming the commish is at 5/1 odds. I’d personally put that last one way lower or just take it all the way off the board because Epstein’s politics don’t line up very well with MLB owners and the commissioner’s job is more about making those people money than actually making the game better.

The Mets make sense for a lot of reasons, the biggest of which is that new owner Steve Cohen has already proven willing and able to spend big on making his team a contender. And while they’ve not yet gotten splashy in free agency, somethign they’d probably need a baseball operations leader to do, Cohen has reinstated full salaries for all employees and committed to increasing the team’s philanthropic efforts in the local community.

Not only has Epstein’s success come when ownership flexes its full financial might, but he’s also been very vocal about supporting social justice initiatives both locally and on a broad scale throughout the game. And yes, I understand how the first part of that might elicit a, “Well…yeah.” The Mets feel like a good fit both philosophically and practically, and recent developments further add to the possibility that Epstein ends up in New York at some point.

After a report from Jon Morosi tabbed Indians GM Mike Chernoff as a “leading candidate” for the Mets’ front office vacancy, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that Chernoff will not interview. The extremely online Cohen even debunked Morosi’s report with a tweet. Chernoff has turned down overtures from other teams in the past, so just choosing to interview for a new position at all would have seemed to indicate the job was his. That’s clearly not the case, at least not at this point.

Milwaukee denied a request to interview GM David Stearns and Martino further reported that Oakland GM David Forst is unlikely to interview, leaving former Marlins GM Michael Hill as the only known candidate to have talked with the Mets. Former pitcher and current MLB senior vice president Chris Young, who Cubs fans may remember from his fight with Derrek Lee back in 2007, was also named in Martino’s brief piece.

I don’t want to insinuate that the potential for a fresh start in a whole new major market hastened Epstein’s departure, because I do believe he truly understood how futile the 2021 season would have been in Chicago as a lame duck. At the same time, he’s shrewd enough to understand that interesting opportunities don’t come along all the time and he may have been keeping tabs on Cohen’s machinations.

Even though it isn’t entirely likely, Vegas typically knows what it’s doing and the situation in Queens sure does seem like something that would make sense as Epstein’s next step.

Update: The Mets have abandoned their search for a president of baseball operations and will instead hire a GM who will report to team president Sandy Alderson. Other potential candidates either bowed out or were not made available to interview and Epstein was not contacted about the role.

“Theo has indicated a desire to take a year off,” Alderson said.

This choice might actually make it even more likely that the Mets will target the legendary curse-breaker in the future.

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