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).

  • cjdubbya

    All this legalese…everything’s dependent upon what the definition of the word is. Or what the meaning of the word “is” is. Just get it done so Sully & Fitzy from Brockton can cry to WEEI about gettin’ hammahed wicked hahd in the Epsteen deal. Yankees suck, I’ll take ya comments awf da aih.

  • Matt

    Why can’t we just set this up as an arbitration case and just finish it?

    • Brett

      That’s kind of what’s happening – with Selig as the arbitrator.

  • K Rock

    Take Soriano and we will pay a bulk of his contract, and a low end prospect with money…….Deal solved lol

    • cjdubbya

      I’d say that Soriano could be quantified by himself as “significant”. Hey, it’s all in how you view the word.

      • K Rock

        If you compare his numbers to other DH options……I’d say “significant” isn’t a stretch if he comes rather cheap

  • RoughRiider

    Isn’t Jim Hendry still under contract? Send them Jim Hendry.

  • Sam

    Alfonso Soriano and Rodrigo Lopez… Hey they are the equivalent of one mediocre player… Maybe…

  • Kevin

    Appears Bud is dragging his feet because he doesn’t know what to do. I believe, in all honesty, that he needs feedback from his inner circle of owners to give him some guidance. It’s a sad situation and it tells me Bud is being pressured by some powerful owners. Why else would this not be resolved yet.

  • SirCub

    Pure speculation… but what if, Kenney and Luchino spoke, they agreed upon terms of compensation for Theo being hired on a lateral move, and then through the course of the interview, TR and Theo decided on a promotion (or maybe TR wanted him as president the whole time (but Kenney wasn’t in on that part (or he was and was just slimey when dealing with Luchino))). That could explain the disparity- the Sox want what was previously agreed on, and the Cubs say that it should be less because the move ended up being a promotion. Anyway, that is my magic bullet theory.

    • Brett

      Heck of a theory. Let me add a layer, and suggest that neither promotion or lateral were discussed at all. Just an interview, and then theoretical possibility of significant compensation if the Cubs hire him. It would have been sloppy, but, given how secretive it had to be, and how informal, you can see how it could have played out like that. Then, as you say, the Cubs – maybe even Epstein, himself – decided, “wait – why would we give up a ton for a promotion? We should factor that into what is ‘significant.'”

      I like that magic bullet.

      • JB88

        “Just an interview, and then theoretical possibility of significant compensation if the Cubs hire him. It would have been sloppy, but, given how secretive it had to be, and how informal, you can see how it could have played out like that.”

        This would certainly square with the stories that Kenney is an incompetent boob. Why he would ever include the word “significant” in the conversation — unless firmly pressed by LL is beyond dumb and would be the very definition of “leading with your chin.”

  • scorecardpaul

    how about we give them Crane Kenney

  • BleedBlueinWNeb

    i say give them woo woo

  • Mick

    My guess it will be Rafael Dolis on the high side or Steve Clevenger on the low side of comepensation. I actually think Bud will do the right thing here and give Boston the lesser of the prospects from the lists the teams gave him. I don’t understand all the Selig hate on this site, what did he ever do to the Cubs? Baseball is in a really good place right now and a lot of it has to do with the Bud’s leadership. PEDs, the strike, the All-Star game debacle, expansion, relocation, divisional and league re-allignments, expanding playoffs, etc. That’s a lot of crap thrown on a one-man’s plate and for him to lead MLB through it all to where we are today is impressive. Absolute HOF’er IMO.

  • 2much2say

    A utility infielder sounds like significant comp for Theo. Dewitt, Baker or Barney

  • 2much2say

    Barney is in the mix this year

  • ferrets_bueller

    “soon” is relative, just like “significant,” haha.

  • Dustin

    I say the cubs should give up Matt Garza one he is trade block and two red sox need a starter simply ship him over there and he has pitched in that division before so he already knows what to suspect and would be a very good player for the red sox… BUd selig should have it resolved soon hopfully tired of listing to it..

    • TWC

      Dustin? Dustin Pedroia, is that you?

    • ogyu

      The Cubs should give up Garza? I say Dustin should give up ganja.

      • hardtop

        ganja doesn’t get you high enough to make a statement like that…. hes on some reeeeeaaaaal heavy drugs man.

        • TWC

          How would you know, hippie?!

  • Brian Schmidt

    Honestly if Bud gives them a high prospect he is doing the wrong thing. Are you really going to punish a team for promoting a guy? The business world would show this happens all the time. If you were working somewhere you may not want to be in a year and given the opportunity to leave the company should be understanding that you want to go elsewhere, not hold a grudge and not get ridiculous compensation in return. Plus if the Cubs could not get Epstein now they probably would have gotten someone not as known as him and would be wondering what if.

    • DocWimsey

      “Plus if the Cubs could not get Epstein now they probably would have gotten someone not as known as him and would be wondering what if.”

      Isn’t that an argument for the Sox getting a high compensation? Sox fans and possibly their management have a natural sympathy for the Cubs: they know what “curses” are like, and they know how awesome it is to break one. However, sympathy is one thing: abetting is another! This is a business, after all.

      Moreover, in the business world, people in management frequently have contracts forbidding them from doing what Theo just did. The Sox got a player-to-be-named-later in exchange for releasing Theo from his contract.

      • loyal100more

        in retrospect, this player, or significant compensation, should have been addressed before theo inked any other deal. i mean we meet with the guy, talk to him, thats all good and dandy. but when the sox say that if we hire him that significant comp. would be part of the deal,why do we ink a deal with a guy before the comp. issue is addressed? well as far as setting an example for how things should go in the future, im sure having these matters resolved before another deal is signed makes the most sense of all. this mess could have very easily been avoided, and both teams should of and maybe did see this coming. maybe in some way both sides figured that doing things this way would favor them at the bargaining table. what a mess!

  • Brian Schmidt

    If my memory serves me right, the Cubs asked for permission to talk to Epstein, and the Red Sox said yes right? If my memory is right then that means the Red Sox ran the risk of losing him. I mean did they expect him to say no if the promotion/price was right? The point i am trying to get at is that in the business world, companies might see one company has a gem and wish to try and bring him to their company. If the other companies ask for permission to talk to one of their employees and that company says yes, they run the risk of losing that employee. If he agrees to leave its only the fault of the company that allowed him to talk to other people. Thus I truly believe setting the precedent high is not a smart idea, simply because we should not be truly punished for the Red Sox saying yes that we can talk to Epstein.

    • Kyle

      The Red Sox told the Cubs they were granting permission to talk on the condition that there would be “significant” compensation going back to the Red Sox if Epstein did sign with the Cubs.

      The problem is, neither side really got more specific and they have very different definitions of “significant.”

      • BetterNews

        Well, if that’s the case, and I don’t know not having been in the room during the talks(I have heard the word “reasonable” and not “significant”), then the Cubs could settle the issue with cash. Where does a player come into the picture at all? Just asking.

        • TWC

          (I have heard the word “reasonable” and not “significant”)

          Then you’ve ignored practically every article that’s been written about this subject for the last three months.

          • Brett

            What’s interesting is that, in these circumstances, it could be the case that “reasonable” compensation *IS* “significant” compensation. No matter what happens, we’ll be able to frame it however we want – such is the magic of certain words.

            • loyal100more

              yea. like it is quite significant that bsox get a PLAYER in comp for an exec. and not cash, or some kind of conrtact buy-out. the fact that they will get any player i find to be significant.

            • loyal100more

              giving up any player seems to be the very definition of significant comp.

            • TWC

              Of course “significant” could mean “reasonable”, depending on one’s point of view.  My point was that for the commenter to say he’s never heard “significant” — in quotes — in regards to this topic led me to question if he’d bothered to actually read any of the bazillions of stories in which it has been used in precisely that fashion over the past months.

              • Brett

                Oh I know. I just was going from there.

  • die hard

    Rumor central…..Boston may consider Hendry to Yankees as compensation for Theo