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Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Trey McNutt was one of a handful of heavily-rumored names back in October/November last year as compensation to the Boston Red Sox for Theo Epstein. The rumors went so far as to lead to what I can only imagine were some awkward interviews while McNutt was trying to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.

McNutt always felt like “too much” compensation, despite a down 2011 season. He was hurt or ineffective for most of the season, but he remains the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, and one of the five best in the system overall.

So, there’s no way the 22-year-old righty who was Baseball America’s 48th best prospect before the 2011 season will be the compensation for Epstein, right?

Well, probably not. But some comments today from McNutt have me … a touch nervous. From Cubs.com:

When McNutt first heard the rumors [that he might be the compensation], he admits it was a little hard to focus during the AFL.

“I tried to block most of it out,” he said. “I just wanted to know where I was going to be. It doesn’t really matter. I finished the Fall League strong. I hope to pick up where I left off and keep going.” …

On Sunday, McNutt threw a side session and, coincidentally, Epstein was standing behind him, watching the right-hander.

“He’s a good dude,” McNutt said. “I met him [Sunday]. I like him a lot. He’s a pretty good guy. All of them — [general manager Jed] Hoyer, all of the front-office guys are real good dudes.”

Did they talk about whether or not McNutt needed to pack his gear?

“[Epstein] said, ‘Don’t worry. If it happens, it happens. It’s going to work out for the best for you, it’s going to benefit you,’” McNutt said. “That’s a good thing.”

This spring, McNutt’s goals are simple.

“I’m going to try to stay off the DL all year this year,” McNutt said. “That’s my goal. Stay off the DL and get 150-plus innings.”

But where?

“I don’t care if it’s a ‘C’ or a ‘B’ [on the cap],” he said. “Whatever works out for them. It’s not my choice. It’s their decision, not mine. Well, it’s Bud Selig’s decision now.”

Ok. So, if McNutt’s recounting of yesterday’s conversation with Epstein is accurate, the Cubs’ President was essentially warning McNutt that he could be the compensation going to Boston.

That ain’t good. Add to that what appears to be the kind of cavalier attitude associated with a belief that you might be a goner (McNutt doesn’t care if he’s on the Cubs or the Red Sox? I’m not asking for a blood oath to the Cubs, but it would be nice if he felt a little bit of affection), and it feels like there’s a little smoke there.

But, before you freak out (like I did when I first read this article), keep in mind: the Cubs don’t know who is going to Boston. The decision remains in Commissioner Bud Selig’s hands, and, while the Cubs might have an idea of what large group of players are being discussed, I doubt they know for certain who the player is going to be. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that Selig has a list of requested players from the Red Sox that includes McNutt, and a list of offered players from the Cubs that does not.

If I were betting, in fact, that’s how I’d bet.

So, it’s fair if McNutt’s comments make you a little squeamish, but there are many, many explanations here. Probably not worth getting worked up about.

If Selig actually selects McNutt, on the other hand, well, then I’ll be getting worked up.

  • otiscleetus

    ahhhh

  • magilljl

    I don’t understand how such stout compensation could be given when the Cubs promoted Theo. Wait..its Selig’s decision. I guess that’s how. Still bullshit in my opinion.

    • BetterNews

      Kenney opened his mouth when he wasn’t suppose to!

    • DocWimsey

      Again, the Cubs couldn’t “promote” Theo: he was the Sox employee.  The Cubs had to get the Sox to allow Theo’s contract to be broken a year early in order to join their organization.  If Theo’s contract had a clause saying that it could be broken if he was offered a higher position than GM, then none of this would be an issue.  Clearly, it did not.  Thus, it wouldn’t matter if that job opening was cleaning out the urinal troughs or becoming Marduk for the Cubs: the Sox had the legal right to make their release of Theo contingent on some compensation.

      • Frank

        That’s all very true–and their release of Theo probably was contingent on some level of compensation, to which the Cubs agreed in principle; however, that really doesn’t address the issue of what that compensation might be. And therein lies the problem–the concerns of precedent and policy. There is no precedent for compensation of this nature in a vertical move when one team asked for, and was granted, permission to negotiate with an executive from the other organization, so precedent seems clearly on the side of the Cubs, in that 1) there is little precedent, and 2) what there is, points to lesser compensation than a team’s top pitching prospect. That leaves the policy question of how this level of compensation affect the ability of executives to move from one team to another. And what Selig is thinking in terms of policy is anyone’s guess.

      • King Jeff

        Yes, just like the Twins did with Andy MacFail. The Twins demanded compensation for their golden boy gm, and it was decided to be the number 20 something prospect in a weak Cubs system. Fast forward to current day, and the Red Sox and some people somehow think that they are entitled to so much more than that, while in reality, most teams do give their guys permission to leave for promotions without demanding compensation. It’s like that in every sport that I watch, I’m not sure why Boston is under consideration for a golden gift. My only guess is that like others have speculated, someone in the Cubs organization must have told someone in Boston that they had more coming than what they should have.

  • King Jeff

    It’s beyond ridiculous that this is still hanging over everyone’s head.

    • die hard

      consider this….if Bosox had fired Theo they would still owe him one yr plus bonus….then after firing him, the Cubs or any other team could have hired him [unless contract had noncompete even if fired clause]. If hired after fired Theo would have been obligated to mitigate his loss by foregoing Bosox pay in lieu of Cubs pay. But there would be no compensation due to Bosox unless noncompete was breached in which case Theo, not the Cubs, would owe Bosox. So, who was smarter here? Bosox or Cubs?..what if the sticking point was Theo’s bonus or noncompete? So wouldnt the right thing for Theo to do would be to forego his bonus as a way of saying to the Cubs, I appreciate the new long term contract and promotion and sorry about having to lose a good pitcher like McNutt? Promoting him may have been ploy to get around noncompete also. Many issues here that us fans dont know about.

      • BetterNews

        Yes, and there was a possibility Theo could have been fired!

      • BetterNews

        Biggest collapse in baseball history.

        • DocWimsey

          Actually, it wasn’t: the 1964 Phillies and the 1951 Dodgers beat that, handily.  Indeed, the 2008 Mets topped it: it was even less probable that they’d miss the playoffs because they had to lose both the East and Wild Card leads to stay home that October.

          Moreover, there was no danger of Theo getting fired.  Yes, there was a lot of sturm and drang, and the media went nuts about irrelevant clubhouse behavior.  (As several ’04 Sox noted, the 2011 team was a bunch of choir boys next to them!)  However, most of them recognized that it was just horrendously bad luck.

          • die hard

            how soon we forget 1969 Cubs?….Theo was to be fired until Cubs expressed interest….or maybe Cubs expressed interest knowing he was to be fired?….

  • OHBearCub

    Boston and Delight both suck. Greedy bastards. May the curse of this deal leave the
    Redsucks without a playoff victory for the next 103 years. No way to break it. They just get to be the Redsucks for a very long time. And may Selig live in groundhog day hell with the Cubs

  • OHBearCub

    Cubs fans wrath for the test of his days.

  • Mick

    I’m still guessing Steve Clevenger as compensation. It doesn’t seem likely that Bud Selig is going to rip away the Cubs’ top pitching prospect in exchange for promoting a GM to a team’s President of Baseball Operations position.

    My take on the article is that Theo probably heard from Ben Cherrington that Boston had sumbitted their request that McNutt be the compensation. So, Theo was prepping Trey if in case Bud does side with Boston’s brief. It makes a lot of sense though because McNutt was the one who was rumored back when this whole debacle had started. Could possibly have been the player Crane Kenney and Larry Luchino had originally centered the compensation around.

  • OHBearCub

    Sorry bout the phone input. Selig auto changes to Delight. Oxymoron….

  • Mike Foster

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……..

  • die hard

    As stated before….doesnt matter anymore who or what is given up for Theo…what matters is Cubs winning a WS….if win WS during Theo’s term, whatever given up is price to pay…if dont win WS, then Ricketts doesnt have to renew Theo…in fact, if in 3rd year team is going nowhere, he can let Theo go or let some other team raid the Cubs for Theo….dynasties are a thing of the past….must play for one year at a time.

    • http://dailybigten.com DBT

      This is silly.

      Hypothetically speaking, a team giving up – say – Albert Pujols would be OK as long as they won the World Series. But they would significantly less likely to win the World Series because they gave Albert Pujols up.

      And if they have not won the World Series by year three – in large part because the best player in baseball was taken from them – then they have failed and should give up a long-term plan.

      Foolproof!

      • die hard

        no..I believe ends justify means…..so if Cubs win WS during Theo’s term, are you going to care who they gave up?….How are the Angels going to feel if never winning a WS with Pujols?…what if St. Louis repeats?…I think you understand now

        • http://dailybigten.com DBT

          Only if you believe means (who is playing) and ends (the result of the game) are wholly unrelated.

          I understand just fine.

    • When the Music’s Over

      The two are necessarily mutually exclusive because if the compensation is steep enough, it could impact the Cubs chances to win a world series.

      • die hard

        if affects Cubs ability to win WS then not mutually exclusive….if irrelevant then is mutually exclusive which is my point

  • ty

    Any player who is good enough to play Fall Ball–high percentage become very good Major Leaguers within 2 yrs–should not be offered up due to administrative changes.

  • ty

    Ohbearcub==Could you rhyme that a bit so we could use it as the new Cub theme song?

  • Joker

    Once again, I’ll say it – not getting worked up about it. Remember all the “hot pitching prospects” of the Cubs past? I try not to because how many have worked out? Maddux, Wood (not to what we imagined), Z and Prior for a couple of years? (Moyer after he left the organization).

    It’s Trey McNutt. A hurt Cubs pitching prospect. Let Selig select him and let’s end this saga.

    • die hard

      now you got me worried that he wont be the guy in which case Cubs may be stuck with him…well, so what, as long as Cubs win WS…

  • Dustin S

    This does make me think that there was more detail in the verbal agreement than just the “significant compensation” description we’ve heard all along. It’s been hard to believe that they just left it at that originally and moved forward without a least a little more detail like “top x to x” level prospect, AA, AAA, etc. when these guys make these types of deals for a living.

    That said, Epstein was coming to the Cubs either way. The only question was whether it would be before this season or after this season. It may be more than we should have to pay, but losing McNutt (or that someone of that level) is 100x better than a wasted 2012 with Hendry.

  • Serio
  • TeddyBallGame

    Of ALL the talk we’ve heard regarding the compensation, this seems to be the first substancial thing that has occured. I love the fact that Theo is professional enough to be straight up with Trey because he’s gonna have that much more respect for Theo in the end regardless of how this plays out. Yes, it would suck if Selig decided he was the compensation, but looking back, the Red Sox originally asked for Garza as compensation. Obviously, that’s ridiculous, but any one of us that say we wouldn’t have given up McNutt for Theo before Epstein was even interviewed is lying to themself. In the end, I’m gonna go with Jeff Beliveau as the decided compensation. Red Sox, thanks in advance for Theo, keep it in ya!!

  • Still Love the Cubs

    I don’t think Bud wants to make ANY waves whatsoever with this whole deal. And if he does make waves, it’s going to be the kind that make teams say “I don’t want this compensation issue to go to the commish. We might not get much if we do that!!”

    That way, teams will settle this stuff on their own, and he doesn’t end up with a stack of these things every year when someone from administration changes teams.

  • Deez

    Selig knows this deal will set precedent. I’ll put a check on it, it will not be McNutt. Why would you want to make the starting point for any negotiations a Top Pitching prospect?

  • http://Www.campvegetable.com camp vegetable

    Finally, the terms of a Greek bailout have been agreed to. Now Buddy Boy can get back to baseball and grant the BoSox our just compensation. We’d go nuts over McNutty. Maples may be sweet. Let’s get it over with and today!

  • IACubs

    Epstein Compensation Deal Is Close
    By Tim Dierkes [February 21 at 9:15am CST]
    9:15am: The Red Sox will receive a pitcher from the Cubs’ 40-man roster, tweets WEEI’s Alex Speier. That’d rule out McNutt. Rafael Dolis, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Beliveau, and Casey Weathers are on the Cubs’ 40-man and cracked Baseball America’s top 30 prospects for the team.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      The Red Sox won’t touch Weathers; too high of risk.  Dolis, I think, would be too much for compensation.  Beliveau and Carpenter fit (in my book, some people have Carpenter as a Top 10 prospect for the Cubs), and of the two I’d rather lose Carpenter.

      Don’t count out Casey Coleman, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, or James Russell either.  To be honest, Maine might make the most sense of all for the Red Sox.

  • 2much2say

    Rafael Dolis, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Beliveau, and Casey Weathers
    I would think Beliveau makes sense

  • ferrets_bueller

    I’d rather keep Dolis, then beliveau, then carp, then weathers…so i hope its weathers.

  • Curt

    This is still one the most asinine negotiations I’ve ever heard of the sox deserve a kick in their collective asses I’ll be overjoyed when this is done and over with just makes u feel like you need another shower when discussing anything redsox.

    • Toosh

      Well put. I believe when this is over the Cubs and Padres will show Boston how the issue should have been handled by agreeing on compensation for Hoyer amicably.

  • 2much2say

    They said a player from the 40 man roster not 25 man roster. Cabrera seems to be under the radar

    • Toosh

      The 25 man roster is not known at this time.

  • 2much2say

    Before Dewitt was sent down, who else were the Cubs thinking of dropping from 40 man

  • 2much2say

    Before Dewitt was sent down Bret thought it would be Mateo

  • 2much2say

    Would signing Oswalt be a reach for the Cubs?
    His price is down to 6 mil.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Not likely.  Oswalt is looking to sign with a contender, and the Cubs just don’t fit that description in 2012.  I think the only way he’d come to Chicago is if the Cubs promised to trade him in July to a contender if he was pitching good enough to warrant some interest.  The Cubs would probably be more than happy to do that deal, but it wouldn’t make much sense for Oswalt.  He is going to land with a team that has a chance to reach the World Series, the only question is which one and how much.

  • 2much2say

    Garza Oswalt Dempster

  • BlueBlood23

    I think Scott Maine sounds about right… He’s already pitched for the big club, has some ceiling left and wouldn’t be precedent setting… This wouldn’t bother me at all and I think it makes total sense…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Maine or Carpenter, to my thinking, make the most sense for Boston.  They want someone they can use right away, and those two guys fit the bill.  Maine projects as high as a set-up man, and Carpenter could be a closer if he can ever consistently locate his stuff.  Either one could break camp with the Red Sox.

      And losing either one would not be devastating for the Cubs.  It looks like a pretty good fit to me.

  • 2much2say

    So, Maine – Dolis – Mateo – Carpenter are our choices

  • 2much2say

    The Cubs need to make a splash somewhere. They seem to be focused on pitching depth so Oswalt at 7 mil with a 10 mil option 1.5 mil buy out

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