Am I the only one having flashbacks to November?

Another day, another set of conflicting reports about the fair compensation that the Chicago Cubs owe the Boston Red Sox for hiring Theo Epstein to a promoted position, unavailable with the Red Sox, one year before Epstein’s contract was set to expire (could I load my description any more?).

Epstein and Red Sox GM Ben Cherington were at a fundraiser at Fenway Park last night, but neither was particularly interested in discussing the outstanding compensation issue.

“I don’t know,” said Epstein when asked about the status of the issue, according to Nick Cafardo. “Seems like it should be coming to an end sometime soon.”

Asked again about the issue later in the evening, Epstein again demurred.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to talk about it. No one has really talked much about it. Probably a better question for MLB …. I don’t know [if it will be resolved before spring training].”

This weekend, Cafardo reported – at the end of an unrelated column – that an anonymous AL GM told him he expects the compensation for Epstein to be a “significant player,” (with the preposterous justification that Bud Selig doesn’t want executives changing teams during their contract). Last night, Cafardo again used the “significant player” language, noting his belief that this was the language used by the two parties when the issue of compensation was first discussed. (There have been conflicting reports as to just what was said when Cubs’ Business President Crane Kenney asked Red Sox President Larry Lucchino for permission to speak to Epstein. Most reports, however, indicate that the two sides agreed that compensation would be “significant” if the Cubs hired Epstein, but the sides did not flesh out at that time what was meant by the otherwise amorphous term, “significant.”)

As discussed this weekend, “significant” compensation could mean five different things to five different people, so it’s probably not worth getting hung up on that word, whether or not it was used by the sides in their initial discussions about compensation.

As for timing, Cafardo reports: “League sources have indicated an outcome should occur soon. The teams have submitted names to the Commissioner and it appears the commissioner will soon make a ruling.”

But Toni Ginnetti of the Sun-Times reports that the Commissioner’s Office would not confirm a meeting, and Phil Rogers reports that a “[h]ighly placed MLB source indicates Bud Selig has only begun working on the Theo Epstein compensation case[, and n]o decision [is] imminent.” Whom to believe? Of course, all reports could be correct, and it’s simply a matter of what is meant by words like “soon” and “imminent.”

On the balance, it seems like it’s safe to say that the Commissioner’s Office is working on the issue, and I imagine everyone involved is going to want this settled before Spring Training (the Cubs, so they know who they have, and the Red Sox, so they can observe the player(s) if they are close to MLB-ready).



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