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Levine: Theo Epstein Extension Could Be Next For Cubs

By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) With the the concentration on the hiring of Joe Maddon as Cubs manager, is there now another obvious deal to get done by the Ricketts family now? A key element in the signing of Maddon is that he now has three years of a contract that extends beyond the contracts of president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer after signing a five-year, $25-million deal and being introduced as the new manager Monday.

Epstein signed a five-year, $16.5-million contract on Oct. 21, 2011. That deal now has two years remaining on it. With Maddon locked in for five years, it would be out of the norm that the head of baseball operations would have fewer years left on his contract.

With the franchise turning the corner on both the baseball and business end of the operation, it would seem a slam dunk that Epstein will be given a three-to-five-year extension sooner rather than later. Maddon will be making more money (around $5 million per season) than anyone in the business or baseball offices, according to reports. Although this isn't the first time a manger will get more money than his boss, it would be odd to have a manager in place who's locked in for three years longer and at $1.5 million per season more than the team president.

After Maddon was introduced Monday, Epstein confirmed he's had preliminary talks with Cubs owner Tom Ricketts on an extension.

"Tom talked to me a while back about extending my contract," Epstein said. "I really appreciated that, and that is something I would like to happen, too. We have been too busy, and the organization comes first. We have had a lot on our plate and this (Maddon hiring) was a more pressing matter."

"At some point in the future, I think we will hammer it out. This is where I want to be. I am fully invested in what we have going on, and I love the people I work with. I wouldn't trade our future for anybody's out there."

Most everyone believes that Epstein will be around for a long time. He expects to see the Cubs' vision through to its supposed conclusion of championship runs. Despite the Maddon hiring, most observers believe that the Cubs' plan won't be fully executed for another two to three years. Ricketts made a new commitment to president of business operations Crane Kenney last year, signing him to a five-year extension.

The foot of the Cubs organization seems to be pressing down on the pedal in its quest for hiring the best and brightest. It appears to be an easy layup for Ricketts to now extend the contracts of his baseball executives.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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