This is in no way intended to upstage a World Series in which the Cardinals are leading 1-0…
Today was, perhaps, the most frustrating in the entire Theo Epstein saga. It started off well enough, with multiple reports that the compensation deal for Theo would be completed today (primarily originating with Bruce Levine and Dave Kaplan), and he would be announced as the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations tomorrow. Moreover, Jed Hoyer would be joining Epstein as the Cubs’ new GM. Squeal Watch was as close to a full-on squeal as its yet been (I even prepared the post). And then all hell broke loose. I spent the entire day tracking rumors, counter-rumors, reports, thoughts, speculation, and utter bullshit.
Multiple Boston sources got chippy when their Chicago counterparts reported that the deal was done this morning. They’d heard no such thing from Red Sox sources, and one even went so far as to say there remained a “fundamental divide” between the two sides on compensation. Red Sox owner John Henry said the two sides were “not close.” Paul Sullivan went so far as to suggest that Henry was affirmatively upset by the “premature” reports, and postulated that the Red Sox might try to “punish” the Cubs for the reports.
So where do things stand now? The deal could still be done today or early tomorrow, and then announced tomorrow. Gordon Edes says the deal has been pretty much completed, but the Red Sox still have to review the medical information of the prospects involved. Nick Cafardo, who’s become quite the mouthpiece for the Red Sox, says both sides are still “dug in” over compensation.
I asked Dave Kaplan what changed between his original report and the revelation that the Sox weren’t quite yet on board, and he called the turnabout “last minute posturing,” but no reason for concern.
Bruce Levine stands by his original report that a deal will get done, but is no longer convinced a press conference will happen tomorrow. If the deal is finalized, though, Levine says the Cubs and Sox have permission from MLB to announce the deal. In a radio interview mid-day, Levine made it pretty clear that he believes the problem lies with the Red Sox, who he says aren’t acting reasonably or professionally. Call it confirmation bias, but I believe him. (I mean, heck, just look at how smoothly the Cubs’ apparent discussions are going with the Padres with respect to Jed Hoyer – a guy who would be coming over in a lateral move.)
As I suggested earlier today in various places, including Facebook and Twitter (eh hem), it remains possible that the Red Sox are denying the reports publicly because MLB didn’t want the news to leak today, a World Series game day. We never heard official word from the Cubs, so it’s possible they would have said the same.
Speaking of MLB, on the radio today, Bud Selig apparently conceded that he may have to get involved to get the deal done. “It is a possibility. No question, it is a possibility.”
As for compensation, no one yet seems to know whom the Red Sox are getting. Bruce Levine still says Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur and Trey McNutt are off the table, but Dave Kaplan says only Jackson is off the table.
The good news is that no one is backing off the report that Jed Hoyer will be the Cubs’ new GM. Even better, it looks like scouting/drafting guru Jason McLeod – another former Epstein underling – will be coming to the Cubs with Hoyer.
Most sources still believe that the Padres will not require compensation for Hoyer’s (and McLeod’s) hire, but at least one report, from CBSSports, says the Padres will receive “one or two low level minor leaguers” for Hoyer and McLeod. It seemed a bit generous that the Cubs would get both for nothing, so we’ll see what happens.
The only teeny, tiny disconcerting part of the prospective Hoyer hire is a report by Bruce Levine that Epstein originally preferred Josh Byrnes to be his GM, and Byrnes declined. Thereafter, Epstein turned to Hoyer, who didn’t immediately jump on the opportunity. Instead, he asked for a five-year extension from the Padres, who said it wouldn’t happen, and gently encouraged him to move on to the Cubs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to get Hoyer. But, I guess there’s a part of me that wishes he was jumping and screaming (squealing?) at the prospect of joining the Chicago Cubs as GM, rather than seeing it as something of an excellent back-up plan.
Then again, I’m not so sure I can blame him. Have you ever been to San Diego? There’s a reason people go there and never come back – it’s the best city in the USA, hands down. Chicago is a close second, naturally.
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