Uh-oh. Could the Theo Epstein to Cubs “Trade” fall through as Cubs and Red Sox brass duke it out over the 37-year old GM? What a disaster?!
Supposedly, the Cubs and Red Sox are still working out the “compensation” for bringing Theo Epstein to Chicago to take over baseball operations for the Cubs. It’s not clear whether the “compensation” will be cash only or a combination of cash and players, but we do know that Tom Ricketts has provided a list of prospects to his senior scouting team to determine which players, if any, they would be willing to part with. Another glitch has been whether or not the Red Sox will refuse Theo to bring any Red Sox “staffers” with him to Chicago. When Jed Hoyer left the Red Sox in 2009 to take over the San Diego Padres GM job, Red Sox management allowed Hoyer to take 2 senior staffers with him. But rumors have it that the Red Sox management is really being stubborn about allowing a similar precedent with Theo. Could that block a deal. Maybe if the Cubs part with the right prospect or 2, then maybe the Red Sox will relent on their personnel stance and allow Theo to take one or top executives with him. But right now it is all still up in the air.
Another issue is the fact that once the World Series starts on Wednesday, October 19th, MLB prohibits teams from making announcements regarding their organizations. That means if the Cubs/Red Sox can’t agree on a deal by Tuesday, they would have to wait until after the World Series ends to make an official public announcement about the Epstein “trade”. Neither team wants that. The Red Sox need to hire a new GM and Manager. The Cubs need to announce the hiring of their “savior” in order to appease their fan base when they send out 2012 season ticket invoices to their “loyal fan base” who have had to endure 2 of the worst seasons in Cubs history in 2010 and 2011 – and that’s saying a LOT for a team that hasn’t won a World Series title in over 100 years.
All these things being said, I can’t see Theo going back to Boston to fulfill his obligations under the last year of his contract at this point. He clearly has some issues with the team’s style right now and was clearly enamored by a chance to be in complete control over the baseball operations of a major league team. The Red Sox were clearly willing to let him go. The Red Sox could have prevented Theo from even talking with the Cubs, but they didn’t. Statements released by Red Sox Owner John Henry sure seem to indicate that Theo will be the Cubs President/GM very soon – “I would love to have Theo back.. That was my hope. That would have been my hope. But you don’t always get what you want. I did everything I could personally, and so did Tom and Larry, to make that happen. The fact is that being general manager in Boston, being manager in Boston, is a terrifically tough job.” So it seems like the Red Sox have come to grips that Theo is on his way out, and now it’s time for Cubs management and Red Sox management to put their egos aside and agree to some “reasonable” compensation to finalize this deal ASAP. That is the right thing to do for both teams to bring some closure to a deal that could end up being good for both sides – how about a Cubs-Red Sox World Series in 2013 or 2014?
This should be interesting and we’ll keep you posted as soon as anything official is announced.