The Theo Epstein Compensation Drama Continues – Red Sox Don’t Want to Let Theo Take Personnel (UPDATE)

Today, the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox have continued the delicate dance of determining just what one year of Theo Epstein’s services are worth in terms of player talent. The Cubs would prefer to pay cash, the Red Sox would prefer prospects. Good ones.

But there’s another wrinkle to the compensation discussions, which has been noted here before: Epstein wants to take some of his front office-mates with him to Chicago. The Red Sox, for obvious reasons, don’t want him to (or, at least, want to use that request as additional leverage in the compensation talks).

Thus, talks continue to drag.

Negotiations continued Friday between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs for Theo Epstein’s services, with the Red Sox taking a hard-line stance that their outgoing general manager will not be able to take any of his top aides with him, according to a team source.

Some club officials have been told that Ben Cherington, as expected, will be general manager, assuming the Red Sox and Cubs come to an agreement on compensation for Epstein, said the team source.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has given his player evaluators a list of prospects to decide if any should be made available in a compensation package, ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine reported Thursday.

The source told ESPNBoston.com Friday that he would not be surprised if negotiations continue until Tuesday.

That’s the day before the World Series is scheduled to begin, and the commissioner’s office prohibits any major personnel announcements from being made during the Series.

“I can’t imagine that either team would want to go another 10 days [until after the World Series ends],” the source said. ESPN Boston.

In other words, both sides might be comfortable digging in for the weekend, knowing that (a) Epstein is going to Chicago, and (b) they have until Tuesday to figure out who is joining him and who is coming back the other way.

So, these “hurdles” might not be additional reasons to be concerned about the deal falling apart; just reasons to be annoyed that the deal isn’t done yet (I want to celebrate fully, damn it).

For my part, I’m not terribly upset that the Cubs aren’t giving in. There is a considerable difference between recognizing that Theo Epstein is “worth” a top five prospect (he is), and openly saying to the Sawx, “here, take our best.” Assuming Theo is committed to coming to Chicago (and there’s no risk that, as the process drags out, he’ll change his mind – so far, we’ve not see any indication of that risk), there is no reason for the Cubs not to dig in their heels.

Don’t forget: the Cubs are not without leverage here. The narrative in Boston is that Theo wants to leave and is being allowed to leave. That train has left the station, and the only alternative for Red Sox ownership is to shut down discussions, and somehow finagle a way to force Epstein to stay in Boston in a job he no longer wants to do.

Eventually, the two sides will come together, realizing each has plenty to lose by not getting a deal done, and they’ll meet in the middle. The Cubs will pay some cash, send a prospect or two, and an employee or two will come along to Chicago with Theo.

Any other outcome would be insane.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, I’m listening to Red Sox Owner John Henry on the radio right now, and he said that he’s “sad to see them [Terry Francona AND Theo Epstein] go.” Soon after he sad, “What am I saying? I can’t be talking about this.” I’m not saying it’s a lock that Theo to Chicago is a done deal, but … that’s what he said.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

92 responses to “The Theo Epstein Compensation Drama Continues – Red Sox Don’t Want to Let Theo Take Personnel (UPDATE)”

  1. jfish1219

    ok I feel much better… I think “@CarrieMuskat Carrie Muskat
    Calm down. Brett Jackson tweaked his foot. Pulled because of injury. #Cubs”

    1. Jeff

      I haven’t been this happy to see a Cub injury since Sammy Sosa sneezed to hard.

      1. Katie

        I just choked on my beer. Lol!

  2. Lou

    But here’s the thing, Brett. The Red Sox also have leverage as I’ve been saying all along. No, it doesn’t sound like Theo wants to stay in Boston. But Boston doesn’t have to let him go. They can keep him around there. That was the discussion it appears last night on the message board. The PR from keeping him might suck, and personally, I don’t think they will, but they can. My issue is that, with respect to these prospects, why don’t the Cubs just let some of the prospects who’ve been in the system go? I mean, the Cubs have never been known as a team that favors high OBP or teaches their players to work the count. These players may not be favored by Theo anyway since he’s largely into the OBP thing. Just give up some of these guys and get the deal done if they want it done. Then, let Theo bring a couple of staff and finalize the deal if the Cubs want him so badly.

  3. die hard

    agree …wait out the Red Sox until Theo’s last year on contract over….we’ve waited 100 years for the Messiah and one more year wont make a difference…

    1. TWC

      Blah blah blah cookies blah blah blah.

      1. hansman1982

        I like to dip cookies into cool quip

  4. Jeff

    You know what would be completely awesome and totally un-Cub like? They should sign Ben Cherington on as the gm and let Theo Epstein go lame duck on the Red Sox this year. Then sign Theo on as team president next October.

    1. Lou

      Actually, that would be awesome. Sick and tired of the Red Sox fans and their sense of entitlement. Let’s rob ‘em blind. Since apparently they don’t appreciate Theo and what he’s done there anyway.

    2. Lou

      And you know…..if Ricketts started this search in Sept, I wonder if Cherington would have taken the GM job at season’s end. Then, we could have gotten Theo as we speak to be head of baseball ops and be negotiating that deal. Damn! And Henry would see how difficult it can be to get an entirely new GM in place. Damn.

  5. Rooster

    Whatever happens do not give away Brett Jackson.

  6. Curt

    Everyone thinks Boston fans have a sense of entitlement watch the nlcs cardinal fans are the same way, man I hate the cardinals and the announcers are just freaking in love with St.Louis cannot wait fir this season to end praying the cardinals don’t win the series

  7. Mike

    In analyzing this, I have to say, I really don’t know what leverage Boston has. First, the Henry conversation comes when Henry walks into a radio station uninvited and demands basically from the Globe story to be put on. I know some of you heard it. Afterwords he explains the circumstances, admits to being upset (thin skinned on the issue) and then contradicts himself several times. Clearly, he’s upset and the situation they have created for themselves is of their own, not the media’s making.

    And so now, having already committed to Cherington the job, acknowledging publicly Theo wants out of Boston, he denies or tries to deny they really even gave permission to Theo to leave, pretty damn lawyerly, but very damn problematic and factually, there only recourse is to try to kill the deal, and make Theo sit for a year. Let’s analyze that, the Cubs should just call their bluff. Theo get’s punished, the fans get punished, Cherington gets punished and factually the mess still remains for them. And oh, the longer the keep this fiasco going, the worse it gets and who will want to work in that cesspool? They have no leverage and never have had. Ricketts has taken the high road, and allowed them to yak away, run to the media constantly, and put out a lot of nonsense and then after trashing Terry Francona savagely they try to blame on the media. Let them stew in their own juices, give them nothing, absolutely nothing other than money and the longer it drags out, the better for the Cubs.

  8. CubsFanatic

    I wonder if the Cubs could go after Friedman as GM and appoint Theo as President?
    Theo gets the power and promotion he wants, and we get another awesome manager in office.

  9. Mike

    Kaplan has some interesting things to say he says are coming out of Boston. In the end, it’s Tom Rciketts call. I think Larry the Weasel Lucchino is making a real fool of himself. The stuff they put out on Franco is really pretty incredible. They fired him and then went to the media and tried to destroy him. When they got caught they cried foul and tried to blame everyone else. Henry showed venom for the Cubs, if you look at his remarks, it’s really pretty damn shameful. These are the kind of people who were more than happy to get Ricketts and his family in this to avoid the potential of having Mark Cuban as a fellow owner and acting more like thugs and trash than he ever has. And then Henry even tried to squirrel out of the Crawford move. He’s not leaking stuff, but he throws everyone under the bus and backs up a couple of times for good measure.

    And then comes Kaplan saying Lucchino is making it personal in order to make sure he either holds this up and stops Theo from doing anything for a year because of his hatred of Theo. In either the NFL or the NBA this wouldn’t be allowed. Either commissioner would have the integrity and decency to stop this type of blackmail, character assassination and stupidity. And in fact those two leagues don’t allow drive by hold ups when promotions are involved. I hope Ricketts takes it to Bud Selig and Selig fails to act, moves on. Let these thugs in Boston destroy themselves. And make no mistake, history is a great part of the formula for predicting the future and if and when the Cubs agree to some ridiculous compensation they are going to do to Theo Epstein the same thing they did to Francona. Somebody has to explain to me what the hell is the matter with Selig to allow this to go on.

  10. Sayueri

    I heard what Henry said about the front office not badmouthing Francona. According to him, the leaks aren’t coming from them. So how does he explain that all info about Epstein leaving for the Cubs is coming out of Boston. In one breath he wishes Esptein well and then throws him under the bus for the Carl Crawford deal. I know he’s trying to defend the Sox but he sounded like a total idiot. I thought the Sox had better ownership than that.

    I think the Epstein deal is done by the end of the weekend. All Cubs have to do is let the Sox keep talking. They keep doing themselves in.

    edit: I see Mike posted something similar to what I was going to say. His thoughts are much better put than mine though lol.

  11. Cliffy

    I’m listening to 98.5, they are re-dissecting the interview with henry from yesterday. One of the points they are stressing is how henry went out of this way to say that Lucchino runs the team. The hosts noted that has been an increasing problem for Theo and one of the main drivers for him wanting to take the Cubs position. He would report directly to the owner. He would have final say on all baseball matters with the possible exception of Rickets signing off on free agent signings and trades.

  12. Dman

    Appreciate Theo? Seems to me the Cubs aren’t even willing to give up a top prospect for him. Who doesn’t appreciate Theo? Sure, we Boston fans expect the best and we give our players, managers, and owners hell when we don’t get it but I’m certain most Red Sox fans appreciate Theo’s work here in Boston and would like to see him stay. And yes the Sox owners do have big mouths, but even they have admitted regrets.