Hoyer, Cherington named co-GMs; no Epstein update

Updated: December 13, 2005, 10:11 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox promoted two of Theo Epstein's former assistants to be co-general managers on Monday while offering to "keep the light on" if the most successful GM in franchise history wants to lend a hand.

"Certainly Theo is a good friend of all of us, and he's worked very closely with these guys in the past," team president Larry Lucchino said after splitting the general manager's job between farm director Ben Cherington and assistant GM Jed Hoyer.

"The door has been really ajar for some time, and until Theo goes to work for another baseball organization we'll keep the light on in the window with the possibility of him coming back and helping us."

Epstein walked away from the team on Halloween. But even without a GM the Red Sox have been one of the most active teams this offseason, making major trades to acquire Florida pitcher Josh Beckett and unload struggling shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Hoyer and Cherington were among the so-called Four Horsemen who made those deals, along with special assistants Bill Lajoie and Craig Shipley. Lucchino, who spent a month vetting outside GM candidates, turned in-house after the winter meetings in Dallas ended last week.

Both Hoyer and Cherington acknowledged that they weren't fully prepared for the GM job on their own. "I wanted to experience a little bit more in baseball before taking on that job by myself," said Cherington, who gave Hoyer his first job with the Red Sox.

The 32-year-old Hoyer has been working mostly with major league transactions; Cherington, 31, has focused on the minor leaguers. They'll maintain that division, though overlap is inevitable when the team, for example, wants to trade prospects for a major leaguer.

"It made sense, given their personal compatibility and their experience, to do it together," Lucchino said. "It made sense for us to divide things up.

"If there's a better way to build a mousetrap, we'll try that, too. But this is the way we're committed to now. There's more than one way to structure a front office."

Lucchino, Hoyer and Cherington all downplayed the possibility that the co-GMs would reach a stalemate and need a deciding vote. Ownership has always had the final say, they said.

"There's always more than one person involved in a deal," Cherington said. "We'll serve as a system of checks and balances to some degree."

Other teams have tried co-GMs, most recently the Orioles with Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie. The experiment did not work in Baltimore , Lucchino said, in part because the two hadn't worked together and didn't complement each other's skills.

"I don't think it's unprecedented," Lucchino said. "It's unusual. But at this point, for the Red Sox, I think it's the way to go."

Lucchino would not comment on the terms of the agreements with the two New Hampshire natives -- even to say how long their contracts will run -- except to say they will have some role in the organization "for years to come." That did nothing to dampen speculation that Epstein would come in above them.

Lucchino said it was up to the GMs to decide who would advise them.

"I think it's probably fair to say there has been general discussion about Theo coming back in some shape or form," Lucchino said. "It's premature to discuss exactly what role, if any, Theo would have."

Said Cherington: "I'd be excited about the opportunity to work with him again."

"We're not committed to this longterm," Cherington said. "It could be change is needed."

Once the youngest GM in baseball history and still the only one to build a World Series champion in Boston, Epstein turned down a three-year, $4.5 million contract extension to replace the one that expired Oct. 31. Although he did not give his reasons, he said he could no longer could give his "entire heart and soul to the organization."

"Theo's an immensely talented guy who's proved himself over the last several years here," Lucchino said Monday. "And if he is comfortable and happy and feels he can be productive in this organization, in this structure, we would welcome him."

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