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Our four-month nightmare is finally, mostly, at a close.

Today, the Cubs and Red Sox decided – on their own – that the Cubs would send relief pitcher Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later to the Boston Red Sox as compensation for the Cubs hiring Theo Epstein back in October.

The Cubs will also get a PTBNL. Note that 2011 Draft picks can now be included in deals as PTBNLs, so it’s possible that’s what we’re looking at here. It’s also possible that the sides felt they were so close that they wanted to move on, and tie up loose ends later (that always works). (UPDATE: it sounds like both sides expect the PTBNL situation to be resolved by the end of Spring Training, so it isn’t going to involve any 2011 Draft picks.)

It sucks to lose Carpenter, who was expected to be an important part of the pen this year, but I suppose it could havebeen worse. The Red Sox, however, should be mighty happy – they just got a better prospect than Hector Trinidad.

It’s important to keep a proper perspective here.

First, and foremost: we don’t know everything. As much as this story has been reported (and re-reported, and regurgitated, and repackaged, and poured over), there are still a number of crucial details we may never know. What exactly did the Cubs (via Crane Kenney, we think) say to the Red Sox about a possible interview with Theo? How exactly did the chain of events play out? Did the Cubs ask about Theo as a GM, and then later decided to give him the Presidency? Were names ever exchanged? If so, how many? Which ones? Was there ever an allegation of tampering? Do the Cubs value Carpenter less than we think?

I could go on.

Secondly: the Cubs are paying for what they got, and not what Boston gave up. That is, of course, backwards, but this whole process has been backwards. The Cubs got a completely remade front office for at leave five years, and that’s the story Boston effectively sold to the media for months. Instead, the story should have been what Boston lost: one year of a disgruntled Theo Epstein, offset by the promotion of Ben Cherington and millions of dollars saved. The Boston front office, by way of the Boston media, “won” the public relations battle. And it probably got them a slightly better prospect than they otherwise would have gotten.

Thirdly: the Cubs were always operating at a surplus. I know it’s easy to look at this like, “the Cubs just lost a great prospect today for nothing.” But, really, it’s more like the credit line just got called. Compensation was always owed. This day, however far off it seemed every time someone said a decision was “coming soon,” was indeed always coming.

It’s not all bad news. The move conveniently opens up a 40-man roster spot so that the Cubs can officially add Cuban pitcher Gerardo Concepcion at their leisure.

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