From the moment reports first broke that the Chicago Cubs had agreed to terms with Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein to join the front office, the vast majority of discussions on the issue have been about the long, difficult, and ridiculous fight between the Cubs and Red Sox regarding just what the Cubs should have to give up to the Sawx in return for Epstein. It has been simultaneously interesting and exhausting. I wouldn’t blame any of you who are burned out on compensation discussions.

But, like, there’s an issue.

With reports emerging that the Cubs are heavily targeting San Diego Padres’ GM – and former Epstein assistant – Jed Hoyer to take over as the Cubs’ GM, serving under Epstein, the word “compensation” isn’t likely to leave our vernacular any time soon.

Given that Hoyer is under contract through 2013, and his prospective move to the Cubs would be a lateral one, the Padres seeking compensation would be eminently more reasonable than the Red Sox demanding mountains of compensation for an Epstein promotion (which, all sources now assume Epstein is getting with the Cubs). So, are we in for another week of tedious and contradictory compensation reports?

Maybe not.

Tim Sullivan, writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune, suggests at least two reasons the Cubs might not have a huge fight on their hands if they want to land Hoyer as their GM.

First, Padres’ CEO Jeff Moorad and Cubs’ Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts have a good relationship. Indeed, Moorad, himself, arranged for Ricketts to meet with both Hoyer and Byrnes on the last day of the regular season, when Ricketts was conspicuously in San Diego to watch the Cubs.

Second, and more importantly, there are personal and financial reasons Moorad might want to let Hoyer go, and both are tied to the man who would presumably fill Hoyer’s chair if he left – Padres’ VP of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes. Byrnes and Moorad worked together in Arizona, and the two are very close. Further, the personal bleeds into the financial:

Moorad, remember, was a party to Byrnes’ 2005 hiring in Arizona and to the eight-year contract extension he subsequently received. Though the post-Moorad Diamondbacks soon came to regret that deal — Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch were purged less than 18 months after Byrnes’ extension — the Padres stand to profit from it.

Because the Diamondbacks are obligated to pay Byrnes through the 2015 season, the Padres could promote him and be responsible for only a portion of his paycheck (the precise portion subject to negotiation with Arizona). That discount, plus the elimination of Hoyer’s salary, could conceivably result in seven-figure savings for the Padres.

Taken all together, you can see why the Padres might not quite want to put the Cubs’ grapes in a vice, the way the Red Sox have, despite the outward appearance of a lateral move for Hoyer.

As a related aside, much of this reflects an attitudinal difference between the folks in San Diego and the folks in Boston. That’s not to say that either attitude is “better;” but when Sullivan says something like this – “As a general rule, you don’t want to get too cozy with your competition. But neither do you want to obstruct employees from career advancement on a bigger stage” – you just know that’s something you’d never read in the Boston Globe or Herald.

Consider: weren’t there personal and financial reasons the Red Sox might want to let Epstein go? And, yet, those discussions with the Cubs devolved into a weeklong fight. I’m not looking to paint with too broad a brush, but it feels like there’s a difference.

Sullivan’s insistence that the Cubs would not have to give up any compensation if they instead targeted Byrnes only underscores the point. He says, in that case, there won’t be a compensation fight, because the move would be a clear promotion. In Sullivan’s words, “That practice is not universal — the Red Sox have insisted on compensation for Epstein despite the Cubs’ offer of a bigger job — but the Padres tend to choose cooperation over coercion.” (Anyone else becoming a bigger fan of the Padres’ organization by the day?)

Of course, the irony in pointing out the differences between the approach in San Diego and in Boston under similar circumstances is that Lucchino originally came from San Diego, and many current Padres’ executives came from Boston. Strange. I guess it must be the weather.

  • chris margetis

    I’m by no means averse to Hoyer coming to the Cubs, but I do have one concern: If you’ll recall, the Cubs essentially offered a sweetheart deal (by most accounts equivalent to Boston’s) to the Padres for Adrian Gonzalez and came in runner up based on Hoyer’s relationship with Epstein. Wouldn’t it be nicer to have the GM landscape sprinkled with a few Epstein disciples for the Cubs to take advantage of similar situations? I guess one could assume that would eventually occur in the long term, but let’s face it, the near long term is of much greater concern. Thoughts?

    • Luke

      I think the much bigger factor in the Padres choosing the Boston offer is that Boston had a very good first base prospect in the deal, and the Cubs didn’t have a very good first base prospect in the entire farm system (at the time Vitters was still seen as a third baseman).

      • Brett

        And there was a great deal of familiarity with the prospects.

        • MichiganGoat

          Man if only the AGon deal and Theo to Chicago were flip by a year, the Cubs would have an inside track to AGon.  What a interesting shift in events that could have been

          I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking about this but won’t the rest of baseball be slightly concerned if they have to deal with the Red Sox in a trade deal after all this (and the stories that will come out)?  LarryLou has painted himself and his organization as a Bostonian stereotype: loud, inconsiderate, assholes.  I wouldn’t want to trade with them, but the Cubs sure look like sunshine now don’t they?

          • Lou

            Yeah, I wonder how many deals the Cubs will ever make with the Sawx. Especially considering the Sawx wanted and probably still want Garza.

            • Brett

              If the Red Sox’s farm system wasn’t bottom three in baseball, I’d suggest trading them Garza.

              • Fishin Phil


              • Lou

                Oh I’d agree with that….but with the arrogance they’ve shown during these negotiations..well….

    • JulioZuleta

      So we took an Esptein disciple out of San Diego, but it’s still full of Hoyer’s guys, so really there shouldn’t be any lost advantage out of the hire.

  • Luke

    Since San Diego is hardly in a win-now mode, they might be looking deeper in the Cubs system for compensation, and that works for the Cubs. They have plenty of players deep in the system that will need to be moved eventually simply because there aren’t enough at bats to go around.

    Evan Crawford and Logan Watkins both have games that would probably play very well in that giant gapping chasm of an outfield that the Padres play in. I’d rather keep Watkins, but the Cubs are deep enough in terms of middle infielders that his loss won’t be devastating by any means.

  • Sam

    In the past I’ve always been neutral about the Redsox. Im from Baltimore MD and even though I’ve been a diehard Cubs fan for as long as I can remember, I still root for the Orioles, even though they make the Cubs look like World Series competitors by comparison. Despite the fact that the Red Sox are rivals with the Orioles I would root for the Red Sox from time to time (my brother used to be a Yankees fan before I converted him to the Cubs) because somebody had to beat the Yankees and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be the Orioles and I felt their pain at not winning a WS for so long, especially being a Cubs fan. That being said, I have lost almost all of my respect for the Red Sox organization over the past two weeks. The way that they handled their September collapse by blaming Terry Francona, and the way that they are trying to take the entire Cubs farm system for Theo Epstein is just petty. That is actually the perfect word to describe the current state of the Red Sox right now, petty. You would think that they would just want to get this whole process over with, let Cherington get settled, find a new manager, and show some respect to the man that helped them win not one but two World Series. But Lucchino and the rest of the Red Sox leadership has seen fit to act like a bunch of 5 year olds. What happened to common courtesy? But what can I say… it is Boston we’re talking about here.

    • Lou

      Exactly. It also seems like Selig let a lot of this stuff overshadow the postseason, which is ironic because Selig talks adamantly about not wanting to do that. That’s why I think he’ll relent and allow a Theo PC if it’s a done deal.

  • funkster

    Such an odd turn of events this has been. A week ago I barely knew who Hoyer was.

    • Brett

      Tom Ricketts is a stealthy dude.

      • Fishin Phil

        Tom Ricketts = Corporate Ninja

  • die hard

    reports are compensation requires Lackey to SD with Cubs paying part of salary, Marshall and Barney to Boston, and Crawford to Cubs without Boston paying salary..any truth to these…cant confirm

    • hansman1982

      that is really hard to believe…this would be the most lopsided trade in ALL of history – getting rid of 2 large contracts and getting a premier setup man and good utility IF for someone they no longer want – I would have just sent 2 cookies and called them in the morning…

  • jt

    if we end up with Crawford, I really hope he comes back and has a career year at Wrigley just to rub it in the Red Sox faces.

    • Luke

      You can safely ignore die hard’s “rumors”. They get more ridiculous every day. At this rate he’ll be insisting the deal requires that the Red Sox send the Green Monster to San Diego with the Cubs paying freight by the weekend.

  • Mike

    Sullivan just said it’s expected to be Trey McNutt and a lower level minor league prospect.

  • brian

    So, ultimately, Lucchino and Henry are scumbags and the rest of the league holds themselves to higher levels of decency

    • Wilbur

      I understand our repulsion to what the Red Sox are doing as it violates the gentleman’s code in baseball front office promotional etiquette. On the other hand, it’s big business and they’re milking their position for every allowable advantage. It’s big business versus the code.

      The only significant risk I see for the Red Sox is the potential for the same treatment to be giving to them if they ever reverse the scenario and for a lot of reasons I don’t think that the risk of that is high. Plus, I’m sure they’re getting a positive bounce among their fan base so a real PR upside during what is going to be a lot of “what the h*** happened in September.”

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