With the pace at which Theo Epstein-related rumors are breaking, it seems most useful to give you items in bullet form…
A television reporter in Boston is claiming that yesterday Red Sox’s ownership was considering asking MLB for permission to require that the Cubs give them compensation just to talk to Theo Epstein. To be clear: this is not the compensation associated with hiring Epstein. The Red Sox might want the Cubs to give them a little something-something just for the privilege of saying what’s up to Theo. It’s a pretty bold move, considering they could just say, “no” to the Cubs. Frankly, it sounds kind of slimy to me. If you don’t want the Cubs talking to your man, just say no. That’s your right. But to ask for compensation when Epstein might tell the Cubs he isn’t even interested? Ridiculous.
Epstein is still leading the Red Sox’s managerial search, for what it’s worth (which is not much – they’ve got to proceed, business as usual).
Paul Sullivan says that it’s “likely” Epstein would hire Terry Francona to manage the Cubs if he joins the team’s front office. That’s the first time anyone has gone further than suggesting it is a mere possibility. Whether Cubs fans would want Francona – he was successful, but his attitude has flagged and he’s relatively “old school” – remains to be seen.
Sullivan adds that the similarities between the Cubs’ situation now (long-time draught, aging stadium, desperate fan base, etc.) and the Red Sox’s situation when Epstein took over add to both his desirability and his interest in coming to the Cubs.
Phil Rogers discusses the possible compensation the Cubs might have to send the Red Sox if they hire Epstein. Among the list: taking on John Lackey and his contract, which calls for $45.75 million over three years; a catcher, including possibly Geovany Soto; Marlon Byrd to play RF; a reliever like Carlos Marmol, Jeff Samardzija, or Sean Marshall; a pitching prospect, including possibly Andrew Cashner or Trey McNutt. For what it’s worth, I don’t expect the Cubs to give up quite that level of talent in compensation for Epstein. I’m sticking to my expectation that it will be a couple good prospects (if, that is, it happens at all).
The local writers are already hopping on the Epstein train: Bruce Levine says Epstein is “everything Ricketts wants,” Bruce Miles says Epstein is “just what the Cubs need,” and Rick Telander says Epstein is “exactly what [the] Cubs need.” In other words, they all “just want an interview.” I suppose that’s a bit unfair of me, given that I, too, see Epstein as the top candidate.
Levine adds that his sources tell him, if the Red Sox let the Cubs speak to Epstein, he’s as good as gone. I don’t like to fight with anonymous sources, but it remains possible that Epstein will use the Cubs’ discussions to up his pay and title in Boston. We can’t lose sight of the fact that Boston is Epstein’s hometown, where his young family lives. There is absolutely reason to be hopeful, but not necessarily confident.
The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy says the Red Sox need to say something about the situation, and fast.
For my part, I say the silence over the last two days is pretty telling: clearly Epstein is interested in at least speaking with the Cubs. Were it not the case, he would say something. Red Sox ownership would say something. Anything. In the face of very pointed and aggressive rumors, they all remain silent. That doesn’t mean Epstein will be coming to the Cubs, but it absolutely means things are being thought and discussions are being had.
MLBTradeRumors reviewed starting pitching under Theo Epstein in Boston, concluding that his rotations haven’t been particularly good, on the balance.
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