Epstein Compensation: Carpenter’s Elbow a Concern?


Just when you thought it was safe to look to the future… the Theo Epstein compensation saga carries on again.

Back in late February, the Cubs sent RHP Chris Carpenter to the Boston Red Sox (with a little helping nudge from commissioner Bud Selig) in exchange for signing Epstein as the Cubs’ new Head of Baseball Operations.

Before the MLB had to step in and moderate the exchange, there were rumors, speculation and even a small media war constantly arguing  who would be packing their bags and heading to bean-town. This was a very messy time for both BoSox and Cubs fans alike and had a lot of Cubs fans extremely nervous.

It was a story that most people did not enjoy following. It showed the catty side of managerial baseball and quite frankly, was so long and drawn out that even Mother Teresa wouldn’t have had the patience to deal with all the BS. I remember every day waking up, turning on my laptop to read updates and praying that the story would be finally wrapped up with a player of minor significance being sent to Boston.

Finally on February 21st, that day came and we all breathed a sigh of relief after Chris Carpenter and a minor league player who’s still TBD were named  property of the Red Sox.

Not bad considering the Boston media was demanding players like Starlin Castro or Matt Garza (not that they had any chance of getting them anyway)

Sadly, its not all she wrote on this story. Carpenter revealed yesterday he needs surgery on his pitching arm to remove bone spurs which will probably put him out of commission for 2-4 months.

Uh oh… Boston may be a little upset about this. Bone spurs aren’t exactly of the “career ending” flavor, but its not exactly a bruise or a pulled muscle. There may be a bit of seriousness to this.

The real question boils down to will the Cubs be on the hook for this? Did they ship off damaged goods knowing that Carpenter may need surgery in the future? Is there any sort of breach of conduct in this deal considering that now he needs surgery? He’s already had Tommy John surgery once and will likely need it again after having these bone spurs removed…

Funny to note that the Boston media has already started the finger pointing with Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald saying “the two sides may need to revisit the compensation trade” and the guys on WEEI radio saying “Theo Epstein screwed the Red Sox once again”. (even though the RedSox essentially ran Epstein out of Boston… get your facts straight before you talk fellas)

Dont panic just yet Cubs fans. There’s a process that protects teams in these kinds of situations… and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Glove puts things into perspective:

"The Red Sox had complete access to Chris Carpenter’s medical records. The pitcher had passed both his Cubs physical and also his Red Sox physical after he was dealt to the Red Sox as compensation for Theo Epstein, according to a source familiar with the situation.The Red Sox will likely not receive a different player from the Cubs because everything was up front and out in the open."

Whew! That was close.

Its also notable that Boston GM Ben Cherington hand picked Carpenter over other options despite having access to all his medical records. They knew the risk they were taking on and the gamble didn’t work out in their favor. Sorry about your luck.

Is it safe to say that there wont be a revisit to the deal between the two parties? No one can really say. I assume Boston will make as much of a stink about it as possible (considering their team looks like one of the weakest to take the field at Fenway in years) and it may cross Selig’s desk sometime in the near future… but I don’t expect a whole lot to come of it. Perhaps consideration for the TBD minor league player will change but that should not have a significant impact on the Cubs’ rebuilding process.

Breathe easy Cubs fans… at least for now.