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,’s Bruce Levine reported Thursday.

The source told 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. hansman1982

    I have seen it mentioned here before and the more I think about it the more it makes sense…Selig may be wanting these guys to drag it out until after the LCS’es so that there is less attention here from the 80% of the fan base that isnt tuned into the minute details like we are until Tuesday – also would be a good way to drum up attention right before the series in that the Cubs get a Curse-busting GM and that is a nice headline splash

    1. Fishin Phil

      Agreed.  I’m guessing this is magically resolved and announced the day after the final LCS game.

  2. EQ76

    I feel like I’m in the waiting room at a doctor’s office.. the wait seems to be taking forever!

  3. Bails17

    Tuesday!  I would rather celebrate on the weekend…but I guess a Tuesday bender is not out of the question!!!  Go Cubs!

  4. Cliffy

    In a town starved for information, your sight seems to be the only one that has stayed on top of this story well done Brett.

    1. hansman1982

      Agree, you do a GREAT job Bret – your’s is the only site I goto for Cubs news now.

  5. oswego chris

    Doomsday scenario would be the Red Sox paying Theo to sit out a year….that’s the only hard-line threat I see them having….no way he goes back to work there…and in doing that they would be hated worse than the Yankees…they are in a PR free fall right now…Ricketts is smart to call their bluff…

    we will all just have to wait until Tuesday to open our TheoDay presents

    1. King

      I don’t see why its impossible that he goes back and works for the Red Sox. I can still see this all ending with an extension for Theo in Boston.

  6. johnbres2

    this is just stupid–finish the deal already–act like grown-ups. There is no reason for the Red Sox to get all agitated about compensation; this is about saving face, not re-building your team. I am sure some of “Theo’s people” can simply go with him (I doubt they are all under long term contracts) without Henry’s permission–and of they can’t, get other members of the ‘supporting cast’

  7. Cheryl

    For Theo to be in the position of negotiating for both sides is certainly new territory. Boston will probably get a top prospect and a mid-level prospect from the cubs, plus cash. There will probably be two assistants Theo can take with him. If he is allowed to take three assistants, I assume compensation may include one more mid-level prospect. I doubt the cubs would offer anything more.

    1. Alex

      I believe we should go on precedent. This is pulled straight from Carrie Muskat’s article on 10/14.

      “In 2002, the Red Sox offered Billy Beane the GM job and were prepared to send Double-A third baseman Kevin Youkilis to the Athletics as compensation”

      Youkilis was the number 3 prospect in the Red Sox system in 2002, behind Hanley Ramirez and Kelly Shoppach. In today’s conversation that would be either Szczur or Vitters. I hope it’s lower, but no way should it be more.

      I hope Randy Bush doesn’t negotiate any upper nor mid level prospects for assistants either.


  8. die hard

    Why do we assume Mr. Ricketts knows what hes doing?… far I am not impressed….hes had several months to get this type of stuff out of the way…..if he had properly prepared, this would have been a done deal the day after Boston’s season ended…

    1. Bails17

      I prefer chocolate chip cookies over oatmeal cookies.

    2. TWC

      My grandmother makes the best brownies in the world.

      1. bacboris

        But are they old-fashioned TWC? Or does she use new-fangeled blenders. Im hoping shes out there at just before dawn to milk the cows and churn the butter just like in the great old days where everyone….

        1. TWC

          Hand-mixed w/ a wooden spoon, chum.  She’s 92 and going strong.  Last time I was in town I saw her stare a cow down, who promptly milked itself and apologized to my Gram for the hassle.  She could teach Chuck Norris a thing or two.  Maybe even Dick Tidrow.

    3. The Other Matt

      Of course he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s never owned a major league baseball team before, and it’s not like there’s a class for that. But he seems like an intelligent man who I believe is figuring it out quickly. It was apparently enough to entice Theo (or maybe it was just money). Also, what stuff did he have several months to get out of the way? He wasn’t allowed to talk to Theo or the Red Sox until after the Red Sox season ended, was he?

      1. Lou

        Well, I don’t think there anything against interviewing Theo’s assistant, Ben Cherington–considering the Red Sox want to hire him and feel he could help them. The Red Sox, after all, the more successful of the two franchises here, regardless of the recent debacle.

    4. Ron

      Have you seen my baseball?

  9. Sloathcheck78

    If people in the Boston organization want to leave and work with Theo can’t they just quit/resign at their current jobs knowing that they will be getting new jobs with the Cubs? That kind of sounds unethical, but I’m wondering if it has ever been done before and if it hasn’t, can it be?

  10. cubsklm

    We all act if one thing has to happen at a time. I am going to predict the Cubs already have their manager. That new manager is already looking at coaching spots. It’s called hitting the ground running.

    Give Ricketts some credit, he knew what he wanted and went and got it. Theo knows what he wants in his office and on the field, he is already working on that.

    I just installed an air bag on my PC, because things will be moving at lightning speed.
    Buckle up!

  11. Irish cub

    Keith law thinks Brett Jackson is a non star prospect and is fine for compensation I say bull$?!@

    1. JulioZuleta

      The Cubs as of yesterday were offering cash only…there is no way that the negotiations go from cash only to our top prospect.

    2. Lou

      It’s not just Keith Law. Kevin Goldstein, from Baseball Prospectus, is not exactly enamored with the Cubs’ prospects, either.

  12. Ron

    B Jackson doesn’t make sense for the red sox. He is projected for the bugs this year and I don’t think the sox would sit Crawford because of one bad year, the would be looking for a potential power bat. They want a pitching prospect.

  13. Irish cub

    Thank u god

  14. johnbres2

    there is no basis in any of this to say Tom Ricketts does not know what he is doing. If that were the case, Epstein would not have given the Cubs a second look. That Epstein is coming to Cubs is yoooodge proof that Ricketts knows exactly what he is doing. He has a plan, and people who know respect that plan. The guy did not spend 1 billion dollars lightly.

  15. die hard

    Red Sox and Theo will kiss and make up….Theo gets $10 mil 3 yr extension with more authority beyond 2012…and we go back to square one….anyone doubt this is outcome?

    1. die hard 2- the airport one, sometimes known as Die Harder

      Fact, and then we bring in Dick to hire John McClain as field manager. Between the heavenly stache of a Mr. Tidrow and the shiny head of a Mcclain, you have an average amount of hair, but an incredible amount of raw masculinity.

    2. TWC

      And the recipe is so simple, too.  Take Baker’s brand unsweetened chocolate, melted, mix with sugar, butter, flour, baking soda.  It’s the frosting — yes, the frosting — that takes them to the next level.

  16. Cliffy

    Boy we both heard that the same way does not expect theo back.

  17. cubs


  18. Edwin

    All I can think of is the Seinfeld where George gets traded to a chicken company for malted chicken beer and snacks. I like the idea of Tom trying to figure out which Groundskeepers to label as “untouchable”, or figuring out which trainers have 10-5 rights in their contracts.

  19. TSB

    I wish this matter would be settled, so we can go back to discussing baseball, and not economics.

  20. Toosh

    Anybody else hear Henry say he was against the Crawford signing? I thought Epstein was against it and was pressured into it by management.

    1. JulioZuleta

      Managment could be Lucchio. He and Theo always butt heads it seems like, and Henry falls on one side or the other.

    2. Derek

      I googled Henry talks about Crawford signing. It went to video 236 days ago. Didn’t sound like he was too against it.

      1. Toosh

        Nice find! Now he’s trying to blame it on someone else. Sounds like Francona got out just in time.

      2. Lou

        Apparently, the SAWX have a knack for blaming people as they exit. The same ownership group was pretty nasty toward Grady Little before he was replaced by Tito. Then, there was the whole Nomar situation. Henry just seems like a first class jerk!

  21. die hard

    and ticket prices to go up how much?…5-15% to pay for Mr. Ricketts’ folly….thank you theo

    1. TWC

      See, the frosting again starts with Baker’s semisweet squares, melted, but then you add a bit of butter, a touch of milk, a splash of valilla extract, and powdered sugar.  Coat the cooled brownies with the frosting, and you’re done.  I, myself, prefer to wait for the brownies to cool and the frosting to harden, but that’s often easier said than done.

      1. NyN

        I too like them when they have cooled down a bit.

    2. Bails17

      I like eggs!

  22. jfish1219

    Die Hard makes my brain hurt

  23. Cliffy

    June 15-17: BOSTON

    Anybody else think this series in Chicago will be the hottest tickets of the season. The Boston fans will be here in mass.

    1. hardtop

      wait? will they be here… or in mass?

      1. Cliffy

        The 2012 schedule,which was released on Wednesday,features the Boston Red Sox’s second-ever trip to Wrigley Field from June 15-17. Boston played its first game at Wrigley Field in 2005.

        1. Lou

          Gee wonder how much media coverage that’s gonna get. I wonder if anyone’s going to try a Red Sox reunion. You know, Henry and Theo shake hands in front of the cameras and make up.

  24. cubs4life

    If i read correctly a few days ago, the cubs had asked mlb what kind of compensation would be acceptable. Has there been any word as far as what mlb told the cubs, if anything at all?

  25. Hawkeye

    Another quote from the Henry interview:

    “There’s a prohibition against announcements being made during the postseason in baseball,” he told the radio station. “It would be unfair to the Cubs, who I don’t care that much about, but certainly to the Red Sox, and to Theo and to the people involved to comment about what’s going on until there’s something to be announced.”

    Well screw you to old man, we don’t care much about you either.  We never played for and left your organization, and you are still bashing us.

    1. ari gold

      yeah, that jumped out at me. I can’t believe he said that. what a prick

  26. Swaz46

    I think Henry’s comments in the radio interview are VERY telling. It sounds to me like the compensation may have already been agreed upon, but because the LCS is going on, neither team wants to make the announcement, which offers a very convenient opportunity for the Sawx to appear as if they’re digging in to appease their fan base which may be a bit pissed about how things have gone for the past month and a half or so.

    But the hell with that…let’s hear more about the brownies, TWC!

    1. TWC

      Man, after yammering on all day long about those brownies, I’d really like to make a pan of them.  Maybe this weekend, once the throngs of tourists leave my tidy beach community I can make it to the grocery store.

  27. Jason

    Like I said before : Starlin Castro, Matt Garza , and Brett Jackson are the only guys I wouldn’t trade for as compensation !!!

  28. jfish1219

    thekapman David Kaplan
    brett jackson pulled in usa world cup game, signs pointing he may be apart of theo compensation?!

    1. cubs4life

      i sure hope not… i dont have a problem giving up even a pair of lower/mid level prospects but nothing in the top 10 should go to boston.

      1. jfish1219

        I whole heartily agree

  29. Cliffy

    Dave Kaplan was right on the money, wait out the red sox and dont cave in on high prospects.