After months of back and forth – first highly contentious, and then more amicable – the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox have, apparently, reached the limit of their cordiality when it comes to deciding on the value of one year of Theo Epstein’s services.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer, the teams have reached out to the Commissioner’s Office to settle their dispute, something the Commissioner has said he would be open to doing for some time now.

Back in late October, when the dispute was at its most ugly, it looked like Commissioner Bud Selig was going to settle the dispute for the parties. But, a couple weeks later, with the two sides apparently discussing things more calmly once Epstein and new Boston GM Ben Cherington took over, the Commissioner extended the talks indefinitely.

Apparently those talks have reached an impasse (which would explain why, last week, Epstein was doing some serious lawyering about the issue during a radio interview – he’s clearly ready for this fight). One source says it was Red Sox President Larry Lucchino who first reached out to Selig about finally settling the issue about a month ago.

No one knows exactly what Selig will do, or when he’ll do it. It seems a fair bet that each side will be afforded an opportunity to present their case (and, as the Epstein lawyering link demonstrates, the better arguments are clearly on the Cubs’ side), and Selig’s office will either order a certain player/certain amount of cash to head to the Red Sox, or he’ll lay out strict parameters for a settlement (i.e., Cubs, you must choose one of these three players to give the Red Sox by X date).

I’ve believed all along that the Red Sox should get a good prospect for Epstein (one year of Epstein, since we’re all about contract lengths these days – he was a free agent after the 2012 season), and I’d go so far as to say a top 10 to 15 prospect is fair.

I don’t know that the Cubs will have to give up quite that much at this point, though. As I’ve said before, Selig is not going to want to set a precedent that promoting executives from Team A to Team B is going to cost Team B an arm and a leg because Team B might be a small market club, and Team A may be trying to game the system by paying top dollar and hoarding executive talent. That just ain’t Selig’s game.

You’ll note that the Cubs and Padres have not yet settled their compensation issue tied to Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, either.

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