The Theo Epstein compensation story is enough to turn any sane person insane. The stories took an interesting turn yesterday when nearly every Chicago media source was reporting that a deal between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox was essentially done, and the Cubs would officially announce Theo Epstein as their President of Baseball Operations today. While that remains a possibility, the deal does not appear to be as close as some of the Chicago reporters were making it look like.
As the staring contest between the Red Sox and Cubs continue, these negotiations are now starting to gain the attention of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. During a radio interview on Thursday, that he would enter compensation negotiations if the Red Sox and Cubs can not come to an agreement soon. Selig would play the role of mediator, and would likely push the Cubs and Red Sox into making a deal that works for both sides. The negotiations between the Cubs and Red Sox may be the only glimpse that baseball fans have at what a lockout looks like. While Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire shortly after the World Series, there will be no lockout between the MLB Player’s Association and Major League Baseball. But the negotiations between the Red Sox and Cubs is certainly taking the place of a lockout. Both Sides are staying firm in their own beliefs, and the Cubs are dealing with a team president in Larry Lucchino who is trying to take out his personal vendetta against Epstein.
That alone has made the negotiation talks a controversial issue. But the biggest hold-up to the Cubs’ completing the Theo Epstein deal is the prospects that will be sent to Boston. The initial demands of the Red Sox were for the Cubs to give up starting pitcher Matt Garza, and the Cubs are obviously not going to give up Garza in any such a deal. The Red Sox then set their sights on top pitching prospect Trey McNutt, and the Sawx have not moved on from that demand. Up to this point, the Cubs are not budging and are telling the Red Sox that McNutt is untouchable. However, the Red Sox have been insistent that McNutt be a part of the compensation package, and they are prepared for the compensation negotiations to drag on for the entire Winter. That, however, would not seem to be a likely scenario.
The general consensus between both Boston reporters and Chicago reporters is that completion of the Epstein deal is a matter of when not if. That is what I have been saying since reports first originated of Epstein agreeing to a five year, $20 million deal to be the President of Baseball operations for the Cubs. The process is simply too far along for things to break down now. Having said that, for the deal to be finalizes, both the Red Sox and Cubs are going to have to make some sacrifices. For the Cubs, Epstein has already been labeled as their “savior”. While that title was given to Epstein by the media, the idea of Epstein being the savior has already sunk into the mind’s of Cubs fans. Having to wait another year for Epstein would not necessarily be a bad thing, but considering that Epstein has already begun to assemble his front office team with the Cubs there could be some tampering charges to be filed by the Red Sox. Under the hypothetical situation, lets say that the Cubs and Red Sox break off their negotiations. Epstein, technically, is still a member of the Red Sox organization. Meaning if the Cubs made contact with Epstein in order to hire various fron office personnel, there could be a case for tampering. Again this is not a likely scenario, and is probably just the conspiracy theorist in me coming out.
But if any side is too be blamed for the delayed process of the compensation negotiations, it is the Boston Red Sox. Under the watch of Lucchino, the Red Sox have been a team in disarray. Lucchino is the reason why Terry Francona is no longer the manager of the Red Sox, and is the only reason why Epstein is leaving Boston for Chicago. Once the deal does become official, there likely will be leaks to come from the Boston media that will try to put Epstein’s reputation in the dirt. While no Boston media member has confirmed this belief, the idea seems to be growing that Lucchino is the source who has leaked all of the Red Sox misfortunes to the media; including the down-fall of Francona, and the suggestion that Red Sox pitchers were drinking beer and playing video games in the clubhouse on their scheduled off days while their team collapsed on the field. In any event, Lucchino will have to put aside his personal disdain for Epstein in order for the deal to be completed between the Cubs and Red Sox.
If the Cubs do not make the Theo Epstein hire official today, the next possible day they can officially introduce Epstein would be on Tuesday–the next scheduled World Series off day.