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Cubs-Red Sox negotiations over Theo Epstein compensation not going well

Oct 14, 2011, 8:40 AM EDT

Theo Epstein AP

WEEI’s John Dennis reports that talks between the Red Sox and Cubs regarding compensation for GM Theo Epstein have not gone well so far. I’m picturing this:

Red Sox: Give us Starlin Castro

Cubs: No. Take Carlos Zambrano.

Red Sox: No. Give us $10 million.

Cubs: No. Take Alfonso Soriano.

And on and on.

I’ve searched and searched and I can’t figure out what happens if they remain at an impasse. My presumption is that an arbitrator or the league or someone would step in and just deem what proper compensation is, but I could be wrong. I mean, it’s not like (a) anyone can force Epstein to continue to be the Red Sox’ GM (and the Red Sox wouldn’t want him to be that now); and (b) there is no tangible price that the Cubs could pay that would compensate Boston.  It’s gonna happen, we just don’t know how.

Anyone know?

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    No idea, but this sounds like a situation where Selig comes in and makes up the rules as they go along.

    • bigleagues - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:37 AM

      The C.E.O. does as the C.E.O. see’s fit.

      He does make up the rules, because he can. There has never been a more powerful “Commissioner” in the history of the sport. He has wide-sweeping powers granted him by the MLB Constitution.

      And that’s because he is the Commissioner like the Commander-in-Chief is the President. It’s just a duty that falls under his main job.

      And if simultaneously serving as CEO of MLB and the Commissioner of the Sport isn’t a conflict of interests, I’d like someone to explain to me how.

  2. paperlions - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    The whole idea of this kind of compensation is strange to me. The Red Sox don’t want Epstein to be their GM anymore, he doesn’t want to be their GM anymore, and the Red Sox should get something in return…..why? It is like trying to charge someone money for “salvaging” items you’ve already thrown in the trash.

    • mplsjoe - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM

      Theo is still under contract with the Red Sox. Theoretically (and assuming his contact doesn’t have some sort of escape clause, or MLB doesn’t have some overarching rule for this situation), if Theo quits and works for the Cubs the Sox could sue him for breach of contract and could sue the Cubs for something like tortious interference with the contract. Such a suit is extremely unlikely to happen and is unlikely to be successful, but it’s possible and it would be a major headache for everyone.

      That’s why the Sox have some juice here. If they wanted to, they could make Theo’s and the Cubs’ lives difficult. Thus, they’re demanding to be paid off. It’s not Starlin Castro juice, but it’s juice all the same.

      • normb11 - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:04 AM

        Do the Sox have juice though? They’ve given the job to Cherington already, it would be just as bad, if not worse, for them if the deal falls through.

      • Alex K - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:08 AM

        I understand all you said, but the Red Sox gave the Cubs permission to speak with Theo. Was there a condition on the agreement that the Cubs would have to compensate the Sox if they offered him the job and he accepted?

      • paperlions - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:15 AM

        I understand that Theo is still under contract….but it is a contract that neither party wants to honor. The Red Sox essentially said, “yeah, go find another job”…so why should they get anything in return? Yes, I know that “this is how it works”…what I don’t understand is why they should get compensation for someone they don’t want around anymore….it would be different if they still wanted him as GM and the Cubs were hiring him away…but that is not the case…this just seems like teams gaming the system to get compensation they do not deserve.

      • bigleagues - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        You stole my thunder. Yes, this deal is not complete until the Red Sox let Theo out of his contract AND the CEO (aka Commissioner) approves of Epstein’s compensation package (Selig is worried about Ricketts overpaying and starting an executive salary escalation).

        While Castro would be a coup, I have a feeling the compensation package is something more along the lines of “take Lackey with you”. Garza is probably more unrealistic than Castro.

        Thinking this through a little more, though, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the So are looking to get one or more of the following: Sean Marshall, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, and/or Andrew Cashner.

        In fact, my bet is that the Sox are zoning in on something that involves a Lackey for Garza or Cashner swap. Less likely, would be that they are trying them to take Beckett.

        If the Sox ownership can get a solid young ML Starter or prospect while simultaneously beginning their housecleaning they then that is what they will do.

      • Alex K - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        I don’t think it involves the Sox sending players back to the Cubs. I think the Cubs just have to give the Sox something be it player of cash.

        I don’t think it’s going to be a big leauge player moved in this deal. The top level of player I think will be given is Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters.

      • normb11 - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:56 AM

        It will NOT be for any of the major leaguers mentioned. Prospect(s).

      • jimbo1949 - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:16 PM

        So, what if Theo does a Costanza and just shows up for work? Maybe he could make some trades, extend some contracts…..etc

      • bigleagues - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:29 PM

        Henry does still want Theo as GM. There really isn’t any reason to believe otherwise.

        However, Theo apparently doesn’t want to be GM in Boston any more – Henry alluded to the 24/7 scrutiny and pressure of the job taking its toll after 9 seasons. But mainly because Theo will be getting a major promotion and raise in Chicago that wouldn’t otherwise be available in Boston with Lucchino as C.E.O.

        I can see Theo being heavily involved in the day-to-day baseball stuff for most if not all of his first 5 years in Chicago – but then stepping back into a more high level role and handing off day-to-day baseball stuff to someone he trusts.

        As for the Sox/Cubs compensation – I’m basing the Red Sox starting point on the fact that two solid prospects went in exchange for Guillen, a manager.

        Theo is still under contract for one more season. That is why compensation is possible. And so far as Henry is concerned, if this falls through he’d be happy with Theo being back . . . even if Theo (who was apparently at work yesterday and today as if nothing was going on) was ready to move on to bigger and better things.

        The Sox have all the leverage. The Cubs do not. Epstein is a unique candidate for a unique task – bringing a World Series title (I think they’ll take an NL pennant at this point) to the North side.

        The Red Sox know this is as much about Epstein’s abilities as it is about the Ricketts sending the right message to his fan base.

        Thus the Red Sox can demand more and expect more in return than the two solid prospects that the Marlins sent to the ChiSox for Ozzie.

        It may end up being 3 prospects. But for all their recent perceived shortcomings, the Sox ownership has never been afraid to think out of the box.

        The Tribune has been reporting that it is clear Brett Jackson has been discussed. Also that indications are that Ricketts wants to send cash and no players, while the Red Sox are not interested in cash and only want players.

        That’s pretty much all that is out there. So, I’m sticking with my guess being as good as anyone’s.

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      PL, try not to utilize common sense here. It doesn’t work that way. Sad enough to say…

      • paperlions - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:26 AM

        Sorry Jonny, I only got the one tool (logic), so I apply to all situations. I don’t have “mental gynmastics” or “because this is how we’ve always done it (tradition)” in my tool box or I’d use them….believe me…would make life easier.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:31 AM

        LOL!! I know what you mean. Those things must be taught because no one is born with those abilities. Natural selection killed that type off in the past. Strangely enough it’s become quite desirable in certain fields.

  3. Francisco (FC) - Oct 14, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Craig, on your twitter bio you have the title Blogger-in-Chief. But IIRC, you were invited to be part of HBT correct? You didn’t set this up per se.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:04 AM

      Yeah, but because of back room shenanigans and overall snarkiness he rapidly ascended the ladder.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM

        Just trying to dig out the origin story. Frank Miller is interested in drawing: Craig’s Lair: Year One.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

      Without going into too much detail:

      Hired in April 2009 when blog launched to be a part-time contributor (like a couple posts a day)

      Over that summer I imposed myself in such a way that I was making a lot more posts a day.

      That fall NBC offered to hire me full time with the idea of me posting as much as I want whenever I want.

      The title is totally made up by me for fun. I post a lot, I’m opinionated and unlike the other guys I don’t have split obligations between here and Rotoworld, so I do have some vague editorial control over things, but I’m not anyone’s boss in a formal sense, don’t tell them what to write, etc.

      I often call it “my blog” because I feel a certain ownership over it, borne just as much of my ego as it is of any reality that I run things.

      • bigleagues - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        Unintentional translation . . .

        If you like Craig and want to see Craig stay around, make sure and click through and comment on every single post he puts up!

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:48 AM

        He’s a good man that Craig. Baseball smarts and all.

        Craig, I found the PERFECT Halloween costume for you. Just think about it.

      • bigleagues - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:48 AM

        BTW, Craig . . . has this Harvard stats kid writing columns every so often. He took an interesting angle on the “how good was Theo in Boston?” debate.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:17 AM

        Thanks for the link big, interesting article. One quibble:

        The calculation doesn’t even account for the influence of Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett, whose acquisition was negotiated during Epstein’s brief absence in 2005. It seems likely that he played some role in identifying them as desirable pickups while he was still in place.

        Up until now almost everyone has been in agreement that Epstein never would have let that trade go through because of Hanley. Is the writer now saying that Epstein, who wasn’t GM at the point of trade, endorsed the trade?

      • Alex K - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:40 AM

        Church- It read to me that he had pointed them out as targets, not that he would have delt Hanley for them, but that they were good players to look in to getting.

  4. drkincaid - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    100 piece assorted fried chicken from Harold’s Chicken Shack and 3 copies of Battlefield 3? Be gentle Lucchino, Theo has little to work with as it is, please take Mr. Rickett’s $$.

    • protectthishouse54 - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      Throw in a couple cases of Bud and call it a deal.

      • tmohr - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        Make it a case of Goose Island and the deal should be done.

    • El Bravo - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:07 AM

      this sounds like an excellent way to spend this weekend…harolds and xbox…battlefield isn’t out so ill go with rage/gears3/forza4 combo pack….oh and some buddha.

  5. Francisco (FC) - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Anyone know?

    A fantastic set of games yesterday. Post-season baseball is living up to the hype. Cabrera and his lucky bounce. Wolf pitching like the Wolf of yore. Drama, excitement. Yankees eliminated, Phillies eliminated. The only thing that would have made it better was having the Braves in the NLCS.

    Craig watched the highlights and prepared more notes for HBT Extra. He hoped Tiffany came back soon. It’s just not the same without her to sound ideas off. They were a team. Kind of like Albert and Costello. His screen beeped. Craig checked his messages and let out a sigh. It was Ricketts and Henry. Why on Earth did he accept to be the arbitrator for these two? Theo owed him big! It’s the last time he did that guy a favor!

    Craig will solve this problem. After all, he is secretly master of all that is Baseball. Let us know what you decide Craig.

    • CJ - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      He chooses to saw Theo in half and give each team a part. Whichever team is the first to turn down the idea gets to keep him for free. Since Boston fans have already volunteered to do the sawing, he’ll end up with the Cubs for free.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        [the inmates are playing cards and betting with cigarettes]
        Martini: [rips a cigarette in half] I bet a nickel.
        McMurphy: Dime’s the limit, Martini.
        Martini: I bet a dime.
        [Puts the two halves onto the table]
        McMurphy: This is not a dime, Martini. This is a dime.
        [shows a whole cigarette]
        McMurphy: If you break it in half, you don’t get two nickels, you get shit. Try and smoke it. You understand?
        Martini: Yes.
        McMurphy: You don’t understand.

  6. proudlycanadian - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    I still think that the Red Sox should demand that the Cubs take Lackey off their hands.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:22 AM

      “We demand you take Theo’s Lackey!”

      “Wait, you want us to also hire the guy who brought him coffee to his meetings?”

    • mkd - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM

      Would that the world were so creative in its justice. Lackey to Chicago is the PERFECT compensation for the Cubs getting Theo.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      I think the Cubs would rather give the Red Sox $50 million cash than take Lackey.

  7. xpensivewinos - Oct 14, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    I for one would be thrilled if they could some how get Soto for him.

    They’ll probably end up with Hector Villanueva……

  8. gmsingh - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    I’m sure Epstein from “Welcome Back Kotter” is available.

  9. kiwicricket - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:39 AM

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