On the day that Theo Epstein was formally introduced as Red Sox general manager, he stood at the lectern and vowed to build a "player development machine" in Boston. Not only has he done that, he's got the perfect model and has won two World Series rings.
The reported signing of lefthander Jon Lester to a five-year contract is another example of Epstein investing in his own product, locking up players the team developed to long-term contracts. According to a report, Lester has agreed to a $30 million deal with a $13 million team option for 2014, potentially boosting the average annual salary to $7.17 million.
In December, Epstein gave second baseman Dustin Pedroia a six-year contract worth $40.5 million. First baseman Kevin Youkilis signed a four-year, $40 million deal in January.
By locking up Lester, AL MVP Pedroia and Youkilis to those contracts this offseason, Epstein committed a total of $110.5 million in salaries -- or about $70 million less than what it would have taken to sign free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira to an eight-year deal.
If you were Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who would you rather have: Teixeira or Lester, Youkilis and Pedroia? Does that question even have to be asked? CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) or Lester (six years, $43 million)?
Billy Beane, hailed by some as the best GM in the game, never had the same resources as Epstein, but Theo's success hasn't just been about money. When it comes to composing a roster, Epstein hasn't been married to any one philosophy. He's not afraid to change course. He understands he's betters at drafting and developing players than signing free agents.
In his first season as GM, Epstein used the same Moneyball approach that Beane formulated to keep the small-market A's in contention. After the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, Epstein began spending money -- as it turned out foolishly -- on free agents like Edgar Renteria, Matt Clement, J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo. He's still not opposed to signing free agents, but he'd rather spend the money on his own people.
Maybe he should write a book.