I used to wonder why sportswriters and other pundits would use expressions like “I’m hearing X,” or “chatter is picking up on Y.” If you’re hearing something specific, just say exactly what you’re hearing, right?

Well, I’m starting to get it.

It’s not always that writers are trying to mask the strength of their rumors, or to make themselves sound like they know more than they do. It turns out that sometimes, you’ll hear something vague-ish from one source (they don’t have details or can’t share specifics), and then you hear something similar from another source. Taking them together, you don’t have a concrete “I can now report Thing Z is Happening.” But you can harmonize them into a coherent narrative of what is *probably* happening behind the scenes. Thus, the best you can do sometimes is say things like “I’m hearing X,” or “chatter is picking up on Y.”

With that thorough preamble in mind, I have heard today, from multiple sources (within one hour of each other), a variety of non-specific things that all coalesce into one narrative, the truth of which I’m certain: the reason the Theo Epstein compensation issue is coming to a head this week is because it is impacting the Cubs’ efforts to consider trade opportunities for Matt Garza.

The interrelated nature of these two issues is manifesting itself in three ways:

(1) the Cubs may want to settle the compensation issue as a part of a trade of Garza to Boston, but because the two sides cannot agree on what is fair compensation for Epstein, they can’t properly evaluate how much the Cubs should get in return for Garza (i.e., a haul of prospects minus the value of fair compensation);

(2) the Cubs may want to use a player or players acquired in a trade of Garza to another team to compensate Boston, but, again, without a clear understanding of what kind of value Boston deserves, it is difficult to make a clear choice; or

(3) the Cubs may┬áneed to know what players of their own they are still going to have after sending compensation to Boston in order to best choose what prospects they want in return for Garza (because, as I mentioned yesterday, multiple teams have stepped back up to the table to speak to the Cubs about Garza – including at least one team that hasn’t previously been considered a primary suitor).

This week, Gordon Wittenmyer reported that a source told him Red Sox President Larry Lucchino requested a month ago that Bud Selig finally settle the compensation issue. Why, then, would the issue just be re-emerging this week? My best sense? Because the Cubs are now just as interested as the Red Sox in resolving the matter quickly, and the pressure to come a conclusion is now coming from both sides.

I know that’s a lot to digest, and doesn’t have much in the way of specifics. But, at its core, it makes perfect sense: if you’ve got an outstanding liability that will impact your prospect situation, it would be nice to have that resolved before you address your prospect situation by way of shipping your most valuable trade piece. None of this means that, ultimately, the resolution of the compensation issue will in any way impact a Garza trade or non-trade (in fact, in some ways, the Cubs hope it has no impact whatsoever). It means only that the Cubs don’t want the issue looming over their heads as they try to figure out what the best path is with Garza.

On the possibility of, and timing of, a Garza trade, be reminded: while the Cubs would likely prefer not to break camp with Garza, thereby risking injury or ineffectiveness, they are perfectly content to do so. The possibility of an extension remains on the table (though I’m told Garza’s side has not yet shown a great deal of interest), as does the possibility of a mid-season trade, when, potentially, Garza’s value will be even higher. Further, to the extent the Cubs would like a 2011 draft signee included, as I mentioned yesterday, they’ll have to wait until six months after that player signed for him to be included as a PTBNL – for most signees, six months after signing is mid-February.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Levine just tweeted that Garza’s requested arb number wasn’t 10.225 million, it was 12.5 million. That’s a … pretty extreme difference. And it would explain what Buster was talking about earlier (despite his having the number wrong).

    I’m hoping Levine mis-typed.

    • Mick

      Otherwise you’d probably need to tweet Buster an apology :(

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Nah. Buster said $10.225M, and that is to what I responded.

  • RICH

    don’t you know buster is never wrong ha! ha! ha !

  • JulioZuleta

    Whoa, big Fausto Carmona news. He’s been using a false name and is actually 31, as opposed to 28.

    • Cubbie Blues

      That could give the Indians grounds for voiding his contract.

    • Bric

      I could’ve told you that. Who the hell names their kid Fausto?
      (Brett, is this one of those comments you were talking about the other day when you said think twice before you post it?)

  • Ivy Walls

    At first blush I thought all along this was a potential hinderence in that it is a moving part that could alter deals or even threaten one, but then I thought that the a deal with Boston was also a possibility. Knowing the cost of Epstein could be engineered in a Garza trade to them or negate one. Many moving parts here and cleaning this one up will help.

    Furthermore I see that Soriano was traded to the O’s but rejected the deal with his no trade rights. Here is Sori’s problem, if word gets out and sticks and he has a poor start in the blue uniforms he could receive a constant chorus of booos…..

    • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

      i think ill start the boos now…booooooo!!!!!

  • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

    bretts probably blasting out the soriano story right now

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not much to say on it that isn’t in that article. Trying to confirm it before I say too much. If true, it’s hard to be too angry at Soriano – I wouldn’t want to go to Baltimore either.

      • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

        there are some decent DH bats on the FA market still, and they can be signed to a single year. with that in mind is there any deal out there for soriano amongst any contenders?

  • BlueBlood23

    I thought we traded Thing Z to the Marlins… Drum Roll…

  • Ivy Walls

    Brett, Cubs or Baltimore as far as contending, the question is where can he play and resurrect his career. If he goes to Baltimore and starts hitting 30 plus HR’s in the DH role suddenly a contender will come knocking to Baltimore and they can send Sori’s knees and his Cubs $$ to them for a prospect.

    Soriano is playing with fire, how would he like an unfriendly confines?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t disagree with you if it were me, but maybe he just really likes Chicago. Maybe he sees that this is his last contract anyway, and he’d rather be happy than productive – and he’s decided he’s happiest in Chicago, or with a tip-top contender. I can’t blame him if that’s how he feels. It’s not like he’s giving the team the runaround like some seem to have before.

      • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

        i think sori has earned the right to do what is right for him and his family as his career comes to an end. fans just need to be able to remember that his contract issues with the club are not his fault. so things didnt turn out the way they were planned, hes still a decent player that has given some quality years to the club, is a likable guy from what his peers say, and is in gonna make 54M over the next three years like it or not. i would love to see a deal that works for both sori and the club, id love for his last three years to net him a championship ring. but as a fan im prepared to live with the reality that this guy stays or goes on his own terms and deserves that much.

  • Rooster

    What are the rumors with Sorry? Twitter isn’t saying much other than trying to find CONFIRMATION!

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