The World Series begins this evening, and, if the Cubs and Red Sox aren’t able to complete their Theo Epstein negotiations soon, we won’t be hearing an announcement until Friday, at the earliest (the first off-day during the Series) – and even then, only if Bud Selig permits the teams to make an announcement during the World Series. The beat goes on…
- The most prominent rumor/news late yesterday/overnight involves the role Epstein will take in the Cubs’ front office, and whom he will be bringing into that front office with him. First, the role. It’s been assumed from thing one that Epstein would not be coming in titled as merely the “General Manager.” The best guess had him becoming the “President of Baseball Operations and General Manager,” but it was always a possibility that Epstein would just be the “President of Baseball Operations,” which would allow him to bring in a top up-and-comer to serve under him as General Manager.
- Multiple reports suggest that’s just what will happen. First, from Ken Rosenthal, who says Epstein is already looking for a general manager. Gordon Edes hears the same, saying “there is credence to reports that Epstein would become president and hire a general manager rather than hold dual titles.”
- As far as that GM goes, both Rosenthal and Edes list the Padres’ duo of Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes (plus Jason McLeod), with whom Epstein worked in Boston, who were discussed here yesterday. As noted, Hoyer is under contract through 2013 with the Padres, so, if the Cubs wanted him, they’d have another compensation issue on their hands. Separately, you’ve gotta figure Rick Hahn’s name will be popping up soon.
- For those saying Hoyer, the current Padres’ GM, would never consider a lateral move to San Diego, or that the Padres would demand a ton of compensation for him, San Diego writer Tom Krasovic disagrees. “I doubt Padres [CEO Jeff] Moorad would hold up [the] Cubs if they wanted Hoyer and it led to Byrnes becoming SD’s GM. Byrnes is like a son to Moorad.” It sounds like an early read – and, again, anything could happen – but it looks like Epstein would like one of Hoyer or Byrnes to become his GM, with the other staying on in San Diego and serving as the GM there.
- San Diego writer Dan Hayes doesn’t put much stock into the reports that Epstein is already working on assembling his front office, however, and quotes the ever-present “source close to Theo”, who says, “Theo wouldn’t even tell person/people he would want to bring over until he is officially a Cub.” Because Epstein remains in the employ of the Boston Red Sox, of course he could not yet be talking to front office candidates. Officially. But could he be talking to Cubs? Could the Cubs be talking to other candidates? There are many ways these things could be going down – let’s not be naive.
- This “President” business raises a question that I can’t answer: if Epstein is to be the President of Baseball Operations, only – a clear promotion not available to him in Boston – why would the Cubs offer much of anything in the way of compensation? It’s true that the Red Sox don’t have to let Epstein go just because the Cubs are offering a promotion, although it is a historical courtesy to do so. Once again, the Andy MacPhail example is instructive – when the Cubs persuaded MacPhail to join the organization as President in 1994, MacPhail was under contract as the general manager of the Twins. The Cubs still gave up compensation, though it was just one prospect, a kid who was ranked around 10th to 15th in the system at the time (Hector Trinidad). If the Cubs are insisting on giving up no more than a player of that caliber, then it’s fine with me if they stick to their guns.
- From MLB’s perspective, I’m starting to get a picture why they’re not pushing this thing through. Consider this: the Commissioner’s office under Bud Selig has, perhaps beyond any other issue, focused on competitive balance. If MLB permits the Cubs to give the Red Sox massive compensation to give Epstein a promotion, what kind of precedent does that set for the future movement of up-and-coming executives? I can tell you want MLB is worried about: they’re worried the big boys will hire up all of the young talent, lock them into long-term deals, and then hoard them when smaller-market clubs are looking to hire those up-and-comers for higher level positions. The big boys would point to deals like the Cubs-Epstein trade to say, “I don’t care if you’re offering my PR intern a job as an assistant GM – he’s under contract, and if you want him, you’re going to have to give me a top five prospect.”
- So where do things stand today, as we approach the World Series tonight? It doesn’t look like an announcement will happen today. I hear vague rumors about Epstein being in Chicago and about substantial progress in compensation talks last night, but nothing solid enough to pass onto you.
- From Red Sox beat writer John Tomase: “Epstein is gone. Whether the Sox get Chicago’s No. 2 prospect or No. 6 prospect, enough with the stalemating, inaction and obstructionism. Let Epstein be on his way, but more importantly, let Cherington get started. He’s got a long offseason in front of him.” Yeah, man. What he said.
- As for the compensation negotiation, Gordon Wittenmyer says it remains the only thing holding up the announcement of Epstein to the Cubs. Wittenmyer says Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur are off the table, but Trey McNutt and Josh Vitters might not be. Wittenmyer also hears that cash compensation might be back on the table, which would suggest the Cubs’ efforts to hold out could be working.
- Gordon Edes also hears that the compensation piece is all that’s left to decide, with the two teams having agreed on what Red Sox personnel Epstein can bring with him to the Cubs. At present, Epstein may be permitted to bring only one member of the Red Sox front office with him, and the name Edes is hearing is Jonathan Gilula, “who would not come from the baseball side but is the executive vice president of business affairs. Gilula, who has been in MLB for 14 seasons and with the Red Sox for nine, played a major role in the renovations, remodeling and expansion of Fenway Park, and with the Cubs looking to do the same with Wrigley Field, Epstein might invite Gilula to join him in Chicago.” Hmm. Whither Crane Kenney?
- Chicago columnists are out in force saying stupid things. Steve Rosenbloom – who just last week said hiring Epstein was a mistake (you know, after saying previously that Tom Ricketts would never man up and hire someone like Epstein) – says Ricketts needs to get the deal done or else his legacy will be ruined. You’ll note I’m not linking to the article – it’s terrible, ridiculous, hypocritical, poorly written, and everything you’ve come to expect from Rosenbloom. Don’t bother.
- David Haugh isn’t much better, dropping the Epstein-is-worth-anyone-on-the-Cubs-not-named-Castro, so-just-get-the-deal-done argument. I guess Mr. Haugh always pays sticker price when buying a car. Who cares if the Cubs lose Brett Jackson or Trey McNutt, Haugh says. Who cares if the Cubs lose Matt Garza even. After all, the Cubs lost 91 games last year – why do they need Matt Garza? The volume of stupid in such a short thought is really impressive. It’s like squeezing 50 cans’ worth of shaving cream into one balloon. Ok, I’ll deign to answer the question: even if Garza isn’t going to help the Cubs become a contender in the near term, he has IMMENSE trade value. Giving him up just to give him up would be like trading two first round picks for Carson Palmer. If you don’t want Garza anymore, fine – but trade him for a boatload of prospects.