“Significant Player” Headed To The Boston Red Sox?
The issue of the Theo Epstein compensation is now on the desk of Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig. After three months of negotiations, the Cubs’ front office has been unable to reach an agreement with the front office of the Boston Red Sox. The key to negotiations was Theo Epstein. After all, he is the reason the compensation issue between the Cubs and Red Sox exists. But Epstein began the negotiations with the Red Sox as through newly appointed Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington, Epstein was determining his own value. But after an ultimatum given to the two teams by Selig in late October, Epstein was allowed to resign from the Red Sox and join the Cubs’ front office as the President of Baseball Operations.
That move was what many considered to be a domino affect. With Epstein now operating the Cubs’ front office, the consensus was that he and Cherington would be able to hammer out a compensation agreement. After pushing the negotiations back and exchanging names such as Matt Garza and Starlin Castro, the two teams finally agreed to disagree. The two teams sent proposals to Selig in late January–both of which includes players–and the commissioner will now be tasked to determine the value and thus, the compensation of Epstein.
While there is no time-table for a decision from Selig, the commissioner did admit that he would like to resolve the issue quickly. The rumors of the type of player the Red Sox would receive from the Cubs have varied. Initial reports suggested that the Red Sox were going to get top level prospects from the Cubs. Those rumors were in line with reports of the Red Sox demanding that Garza, Castro, or top prospect Brett Jackson be a part of the compensation package. But once Epstein joined the Cubs’ front office, reports were starting to indicate that the Red Sox were losing their leverage in their negotiations with the Cubs.
While all this back-and-forth between the Cubs and Red Sox was going on, Selig was overseeing the negotiations from afar. It is likely that the Major League Baseball commissioner is not too happy with how the process turned out regarding Epstein joining the Cubs’ front office. Because of that reason, as Nick Cafardo reports, the Cubs may be forced to give up a “significant player” to the Red Sox. Cafardo received that suggestion from an American League General Manager that is not associated with either the Cubs or Red Sox. I find it a funny reporting tactic that Cafardo included the caveat “not associated with either team” as part of his mention on the Epstein compensation. If he received his information from an American League General Manager, with the exception of Cherington himself, isn’t implied that the general manager would not be associated with either team. Nonetheless, the General Manager adds that Major League Baseball may frown on executive leaving their teams before their contracts expire, and Selig may try to deter that notion by forcing the Cubs to give up a “significant player”.
Up to this point, I have been pointing my finger at Josh Vitters as the prospect who will be headed to the Boston Red Sox to settle the compensation issue. I based my assumption off the concept that Vitters is a top prospect whose path to the major leagues may be blocked with Ian Stewart now manning the third base position for the Chicago Cubs. But while Vitters is a top prospect for the Cubs, I wouldn’t say that he qualifies as a “significant player”.
If Selig is going to force the Cubs to give up a “significant player”, then the player will likely come from the team’s 25 man roster. Keep in mind that the Cubs have already sent a list of players to Selig that they would be okay with giving up as part of the Epstein compensation. Garza and Castro are not on that list, but a few players that may be on that list are second baseman Darwin Barney, left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and starting pitcher Randy Wells. Looking at the Red Sox depth chart, it would appear that neither Soriano nor Barney are fits with the Red Sox. Though, Wells could be an attractive name for the Red Sox. The Cubs are in position to allow Wells to be a part of the Epstein compensation, as the team added three starting pitchers this off-season in Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Paul Maholm.