Theo Epstein following Terry Francona out the door - Metro US

Theo Epstein following Terry Francona out the door

That bridge to 2012 Theo Epstein used to talk about? It apparently leads to Wrigley Field.

The worst-kept secret in baseball emerged in almost official form yesterday, with reports indicating that Epstein had agreed to step down as general manager of the Red Sox to take over the presidency of the Cubs.

His five-year contract is worth between $15 million and $20 million.

Having exorcised the Curse of the Bambino by winning two World Series titles during his nine years in Boston, Epstein will apparently now take on the Billy Goat and a 103-year championship curse.

It’s hard not to feel Epstein has left the Sox the way he found them when he became baseball’s youngest-ever GM in 2002 at age 28. The Sox were still reeling from an ugly 2001 season that featured a cancerous clubhouse and a front office in disarray.

Epstein was part of the renewal under the John Henry crew, and the Ivy League- and Sabermetric-educated GM made a blizzard of big and little moves in 2003 and ’04 that led to the first title in 86 years.

Epstein also oversaw a thorough revamping of the minor-league system, drafting future stars like Dustin Pedroia.

But there were missteps, too, usually in overpaying for free-agent “talent” like Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew, John Lackey and Carl Crawford.

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