When the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox jointly announced late Friday night that Theo Epstein had been allowed to resign as general manager of the Red Sox so that he could officially be hired as the president of baseball operations for the Cubs, I experienced two distinct feelings of joy. First, there was the plain joy associated with the Cubs landing one of the best executives in baseball to lead a revolution in the Cubs’ front office. The deal wasn’t falling through, it was really happening.

But there was a secondary joy: no more tirelessly waiting with my computer attached to my fingers for a decision on what compensation the Cubs were going to send to the Red Sox to get the deal done. That, alone, was worth a couple little squeals.

That said, the compensation has not yet been decided. The two sides agreed to the parameters of a compensation agreement in the interests of moving on (with prodding from MLB), so, although we’re still waiting, the drama is considerably tempered.

Epstein, himself, is expected to take over the negotiations with soon-to-be Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. As an outsider to the organization, it’s fair to hope that Epstein will not be as emotionally tied to certain prospects, and will be better able to get the deal done in a timely manner.

If he’s not, Commissioner Bud Selig says he’s ready to step in. Indeed, the Commissioner set a deadline of November 1 for the two sides to come to a resolution.

“They have until Nov. 1, Theo and Ben and all the other parties involved,” Selig said before Game 4 of the World Series yesterday. “Hopefully they can get things done. I always encourage clubs to try to get things done between themselves. Somehow, the commissioner has enough things of controversy [to deal with]. They’ll either get it done or they won’t. If they don’t, then I will.”

A number of people asked me if I thought the Red Sox had lost all of their leverage by agreeing to let Epstein go before the final compensation decision was made. My response has been: I doubt it. Although I’m certain that the Red Sox were pressured by MLB to let Epstein go on Friday, I doubt the Red Sox did so without putting in place an agreement with the Cubs that the compensation would be chosen from list X, or would include, at a minimum, player Y. So, that is to say, the Red Sox lost the ability to screw Epstein, but they didn’t lose the ability to get a good return.

That said, I do believe the longer this drags on, the better things get for the Cubs. There are two reasons: (1) the more distance that gets put between the Red Sox’s disastrous September and early October, the less the Red Sox need a clear “win” in negotiations with the Cubs; and (2) if things get delayed long enough, and Selig does have to make a decision, you can bet he’ll side with the Cubs. As I’ve said before, it isn’t in MLB’s interest to have large market teams able to hoard up-and-coming front office talent under the threat of large compensation demands should another team come along and offer a promotion. Obviously, in this instance, the team on the other side is also a large market team, but MLB is concerned with precedent. It won’t always be the Cubs trying to improve their front office. Some day, it will be the Twins. Or the Royals. Or the Brewers.

The most likely outcome is that Epstein and Cherington will hammer out an agreement sometime later this week,with the Red Sox getting a couple good – but not top five – prospects.

  • Ron Swanson

    Mostly “or the Brewers”

  • fearbobafett

    It will be nice to have all our this comp stuff out of the way in both deals. Then we will know what our farm really looks like.

  • mac

    Agree all the way, Brett. Epstein and Cherington will handle this like professionals.

  • Bails17

    What if Cherington feels like he has something to prove.  May not go as smooth as you thing.  Especially with Lucchino lurking over his head.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Interesting thought, but you have to keep in mind: by all accounts, Epstein and Cherington are close. So there’s that factor, too.

  • amoo22

    give us speculation on names!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      So, so many possible names – it won’t be Brett Jackson or Andrew Cashner, almost certainly not Matt Szczur or Trey McNutt, probably not Josh Vitters. Won’t be any of the 2011 draft picks. Could be a high-level pitcher like Chris Carpenter or Rafael Dolis or Jeff Beliveau or Chris Rusin or Nick Struck or Jay Jackson. Could be lower-level bat like Reggie Golden or Marco Hernandez or Gioskar Amaya or Jeimer Candelario (though I really hope it’s not any of them). Could be Junior Lake, or a high-level bat like DJ LeMahieu or Ryan Flaherty. Or it could be none of them. The thing is, the Cubs’ system is incredible deep, and the Red Sox’s scouts know it far, far better than I do. So I’m sure they’ll come up with something good, and probably a kid or two that isn’t a household name (and one that is).

      • amoo22

        Id hate to see carpenter go. Or lake because we need a second basemen who can hit for average, power, and steal bases.

  • Art

    i remember soon after the Lee trade to Tampa, one scout said that Jr. Lake was as good as Castro, with home run power. compared him to the Marlins SS.

  • Lou

    Shouldn’t we John Lackey’s contract as compensation? Here’s my reasoning…everyone’s saying the Cubs should take CJ Wilson…and I was in favor of it over the summer. But here’s the problem. He’s 30, which I didn’t realize, and you’d think the Yanks and the Red Sox would be bidding on this guy, which could drive the price up to astronomical levels. Edwin Jackson, and his 7 walks last night, don’t want. His price will also likely be overvalued. Darvish–well there’s that cost thing and Japanese player thing going on there. So, why not get Lackey and give up Marmol and Byrd for him. Byrd’s got little value on this team and Marmol scares me with the loss of velocity and the pitching mechanics. At least with both of them, will be cutting into some of Lackey’s contract? Right.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s one thing to want to trade Marmol and Byrd (I do), and it’s quite another to view them as pure salary dumps (they’re not). Each has value, even on their current contract. That value, however, is greater to other teams than it would be to the Cubs. But to “trade” them in a deal for a guy who would be coming over in a pure, pure, pure salary dump? No, no, no. No. Nah. No.

      • Lou

        So, basically (and I’m just throwing this out for to be devil’s advocate), Lackey should hanger’ up?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nah. But no team – other than the Red Sox, with whom he’s already signed – should be interested in paying more than a few million bucks for his services in 2012.

          • Lou

            But here’s the wrinkle that I wish to add. Look at the big money FA pitching contracts over the past several years and tell me if the value of the majority of them have been worth the production. Yes, there’s Holliday, Carpenter, Lee and Sabathia. But then there’s Lackey, Santana, Burnett, Dempster (nice effort definitely overvalued), the contract that Lilly signed with the Dodgers, Peavy, Zito, Zambrano, and that doesn’t even include closers and relievers. I don’t know, Brett, the Cubs are going to have to get into FA pitching market, and while you may not want them to take on the likes of a Lackey contract, signing FA pitching to big contracts seems pretty risky by my tally. And not to mention overvalued.

  • die hard

    should go big….fan interest would sell out season tickets for both clubs….for instance exchange worst contracts on each club…

    • amoo22

      lol and which cubs contract is the worst? Zambrano? Soriano? paying dempster a pretty penny to suck bad? paying marmol to lose us games? and if we exchanged terrible contracts maybe we could get carl crawford? huge bust for the bosox last year.

      • Lou

        But who’s to say that Boston would want to give up on Crawford? It’s only been one season. Doubt they’d make that move. Lackey, on the other hand, they seem poised to trade anyway. So, why not take the risk to see if a change in scenery, ala Carl Pavano, would be good for this guy?

        • amoo22

          Id be willing to see anyone other than lopez and wells out there. im really low on wells. His first year, or his “good” year he got so lucky getting so many lucky double plays when he was in trouble

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Wells’ 2010 season was, by all advanced metrics, as good as his 2009 “good” year.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        In no universe should the Cubs, as currently constructed, have any interest *at all* in either Crawford or Lackey unless significant salary relief was coming with them.

        For example, would I trade Soriano and his contract straight up for Crawford and his? No. I would not.

        • Lou

          So, then you’re ok with Vitters and McNutt going to the Red Sox? That’s fine, I suppose.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Oh, I didn’t know the only options were two top five prospects or take on Lackey (or Crawford).

            Silly me.

            No: I would be ok with the Cubs giving up two good, but not top, prospects. And that’s what will happen.

            • Lou

              I see so you’re buds with Epstein and Cherington and know how all this is a gonna go down. Well, if the Cubs do surrender at least one of those two, can I say I told you so?

              • Lou

                Oh, and I never mention Crawford’s name anywhere. But thanks. 😉

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Feeling awfully chippy today, aren’t we? It’s a time to be happy, Lou. Not feisty.

                If the Cubs move McNutt, I’ll be very surprised. As I said, I doubt it will be Vitters, but I never said it wouldn’t be. And I certainly never said anything to merit the ‘tude.

                • Lou

                  Well, silly me….I just don’t like it when someone tries to make an argument with an argument, like Crawford, that I didn’t present. There are different reasons you take on the salary of Crawford vs the salary of Lackey. Really I think there are! Also, I honestly and truthfully think it is fine if the Cubs give up McNutt, Vitters, or both, considering the value Epstein means to the franchise. So, given HOW MUCH I value Epstein, I would interpret things as me being upset. So, my response was less chippy and actually more truthful about how I really felt.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Lou – you responded with your chippiness to a comment ABOUT both Lackey and Crawford. And, in order to NOT do the very thing of which you’re now accusing me, I put Crawford’s name in parentheses.

                    You’ve been doing the “so you’re best buddies with Theo Epstein and know everything he’s thinking” thing all day today (taking something I say, drawing it out to an extreme conclusion, and saying “so you think X? Boy, aren’t you crazy!”). It was making me weary, so I responded, albeit perfectly pleasantly.

                    We good. I would be perturbed if the Cubs gave up one of McNutt or Vitters for Epstein, and I would perturbed if the Cubs took on a shitty contract for Epstein. That’s all.

                    • Lou

                      Well, I just makes me weary when someone says “In no universe would I or should the Cubs do this that” to some of the comments I’ve made here. If you’re good, I’m good.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      But, I mean, we can have that discussion – and I stand by the point: taking on the full contract of either Lackey or Crawford (for whatever reason, be it compensation, trade, etc.) would be a mistake for the Cubs.

                  • Kansas Cubs Fan

                    If Vitters and McNutt were on the table together this deal would probably have been done last tuesday.

                    So we can probably count that out!

                    • Lou

                      Well, given how the Red Sox started with major leaguers (and the best the Cubs had on their team, which was crazy, by the way) and then went to Brett Jackson or rumors of Jeff Smarzdja, how do we know if negotiations aren’t now at prospects just below the value of Brett Jackson???

                  • EQ76

                    “Sweet Lou’s” bizzaro world nemesis: “Sour Lou”

                    • Lou

                      So were back to cookies, eh? Yum, COOKIES.

        • Jim

          Why not?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I’d rather get the budgetary pain out of the way sooner rather than later. Even if Crawford outproduces Soriano over the next three years (and he will), those latter three years are the very pain that the Cubs are facing in their next three with Soriano. And those are the years the Cubs could be very, very good – the next three … eh.

            • hansman1982

              DING DING DING – Crawford is one leg injury from being Soriano before then with a lot of his value being on his speed…

              Basically, Crawford is Epstein’s Soriano

              • JulioZuleta

                Ehh, if they had the same years left, their value wouldn’t even be close. Crawford is a far better player.

              • Hawkeye

                The “one injury away” thought brought up by hansman1982 is legitimate, though every player in the league is one injury away from being a “Soriano.”   Very seldom does somebody have a major injury to one of their most coveted and often used appendages and come back the same as they were before.   The only exception I can come up with would be the drummer for Def Leppard.

                • Lou

                  One also has to wonder about Crawford’s OBP last year. Which wasn’t something hypothetical.

                • hansman1982

                  True, but it is moreso for guys whose careers are based on their speed – I just looked at Crawford’s stats and I thought he was a 30 HR guy but when your high is 19 that isnt good – the one thing Soriano did have is that he was a power guy and I think Hendry thought that if Soriano’s speed left him he would still hit 30-35 homers a year and with a .270 average that is pretty good. 


                  With Crawford if his speed goes how much more of his game will dissapear?  If he was consistently around 25 homers I would trade him for Soriano in a heartbeat.

                  • Lou

                    Yeah, I can totally see your point because one thing you’d like to get as a commodity for Crawford is his speed and how that translates into better defense play. If that goes, well, and his power numbers aren’t what you’d want from a corner outfielder? You can expect more power regularly from Soriano, and no one expects much from Soriano defensively, even before the big contract with the Cubs.

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  • jarrod

    Won’t cherrington and hoyer be talking about the compensatiton for theo. Since hoyer will be the gm

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Depends on how quickly Hoyer gets here.