Cubs, Red Sox want Selig to settle compensation matter

According to Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Sun Times,

Multiple sources told the Sun-Times that the Cubs and Red Sox have requested that their nearly three-month stalemate be resolved by the commissioner, a move apparently initiated by Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino late last month.

The two teams have been at odds at what is fair compensation for a GM, with Lucchino apparently stuck on the word "significant" and believes it means it entitles him to compensation to one of the Cubs top players or prospects.

Wittenmeyer states there's no precedent, but does say "until now the benchmark" has been the Andy McPhail compensation, which consisted of Hector Trinidad, a Class A pitcher and the 10th best prospect in a poor farm system.  McPhail, like Epstein, came to the Cubs to take over in what amounts to a non-lateral upward move after winning 2 World Series in the AL.  It's difficult to imagine two more similar situations.  While we remember a different Andy McPhail now, the truth is he was a rock star too and considered one of the best, if not the best, baseball mind in the game at that time.

Wittenmeyer also states the recent compensation given over to the White Sox for letting Ozzie Guillen was two top 5 prospects from the Marlins system.  This is misleading, however, as those rankings were  following the 2010 season and both are not considered top prospects now.  The two players, relief pitcher Jhan Martinez and infielder Osvaldo Marinez,  currently rank 7th and 10th, respectively, in what is frequently regarded as the worst farm system in baseball.  Marinez is considered a non-closing reliever and Martinez is projected to be a utility infielder.

The Red Sox want to make a special case for Theo Epstein and receive far more compensation than any team has up until now.  That is not likely to sit well with Bud Selig, who is loathe to create new markets and certainly is reluctant to do so for front office personnel.

Most baseball analysts, including Jim Callis, Kevin Goldstein, and Keith Law, seem to think that the player the Red Sox receive isn't likely someone that's going to be particularly valuable.

There is this article by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs that argues that Theo Epstein isn't worth a whole lot more than many of the GM candidates of the past (i.e. Rick Hahn) because smart, analytical GMs have become commoditized.

TangoTiger, meanwhile, argues that from a value standpoint, Epstein is worth a mop-up relief pitcher.

So really, it's the  Red Sox Nation against the world on this one.

Filed under: compensation, Cubs, Front Office


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  • I was on with some guys on MLB on XM radio when the Theo story first broke, I forget who, but they were both arguing that it was completely reasonable for the Red Sox get someone like Brett Jackson in return for Theo. I disagreed completely, stating it might be fair value for how Theo is likely to impact the Cubs performance, but that that is not how deals are made.

    What drives how a deal shakes out is leverage and in this case the Red Sox had none. They didn't want to resign Theo. They didn't want to pay Theo over 6 million dollars to be a lame duck GM for one season only to see him walk, and the Cubs could always call their bluff by saying, "fine, keep him for this season and we'll sign him next year" and then go out and hire Jed Hoyer and anyone else Theo wanted for this year.

    The hosts got all huffy and puffy and called me a crazy Cubs fan for thinking that. Nowhere is it written that you have to be smart or objective to have a job on the radio...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    They were the crazy ones. I remember them initially mentioning Matt Garza and even Starlin Castro. They don't seem to have a grasp for proportion or precedent.

  • Indeed. The most appropriate precedent is the Andy MacPhail case. It's pretty spot on, actually. All the Cubs gave up in that one was Hector Trinidad.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I understand, but "all the Cubs gave up" doesn't come down to just a Hector Trinidad that never made it, but by reports stating, he "at that time" was a Top 10 prospect. The name, or how bad the farm system is doesn't matter. If he was the 10th best prospect within the system, then assume Selig could likely hold the Cubs to those standards...

  • In reply to Twenty Two:

    I think it should solely be about the quality of the player, rankings from system to system don't translate well. Trinidad was a C level prospect with some upside at the A ball level. That's basically Austin Kirk or, at most, Dae Eun Rhee.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You bring up very valid points John. I guess overall it still comes down to be subjective on "the quality of a player" as well as "rated 10th in the system". I would rather see Selig go with a prospect no higher than "A" ball, and then from there, do not know "how" to rank them. (draft level maybe?) My point is, a standard of some sort will be forthcoming from this ruling. Will be real interesting to see how it turns out.

  • In reply to Twenty Two:

    Agreed...very interested to see what happens as this is likely to be what future compensation for execs is measured by.

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    I'm not of the mindset that Bud's gonna give Boston much seeing that they granted permission and that the move was an obvious promotion that he'd never have gotten in Boston.Plus it sets a dangerous precedent in the sport where this kind of stuff has usually been allowed cost free..How people use the Ozzie Guillen compensation as precedent is completely beyond me because the Marlins tampered with Ozzie..The Cubs did not with Theo...

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Good point about the tampering Luigi. I'd forgotten about that. Now that I think about it, maybe that's how the Cubs were able to actually get something pretty useful for Carlos Zambrano. Marlins can't seem to help themselves, it seems.

  • Well, it's about time! It will be good to finally get some closure on this and then the SD/Hoyer compensation, which, if I remember correctly, has been agreed upon in principle but was being held up by the BoSox/Theo compensation. While I agree that the compensation in either case likely will be relatively insignificant, it will be nice to know exactly what it will be, and move on.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I don't think the SD compensation will be a problem either. I'm not sure it would even be a problem with Boston if it were solely up to Epstein and Cherington, but it seems Lucchino has made a big deal out of this.

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  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He's made it difficult the whole way. If the really didn't want Theo to leave, he could have said No when the Cubs asked permission. Instead he tried to use it to extort the Cubs. It wouldn't surprise me if the teams may have even agreed or gotten close, but it was nixed by Lucchino.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    "the jackass he rode in on"??? John Henry???

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:


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    Amen Michael , the Guy is a prick"!!!!!

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    I had a little back and forth on twitter from a Boston guy Dan O'Mara. He seemed to think because the local media and fans made Theo out to be some sort of rock star that entitled the Red Sox to greater compensation. I think that is the sentiment shared by many on the Boston side of this debate.

    Problem though revolves around the fact that that just isn't how business is done. What fans/media have to say about something has absolutely no bearing on the negotiations. Theo is already the President of baseball ops leaving the Red Sox with absolutely no leverage to hold out for a better package. They all seem to be using their fanboy opinions and not basing them in actual fact/precedent. That some how they are different and being different expect a different return.

    Either way I hope this is settled very soon so it can just go away. Tired of the back and forth debate about it.

  • In reply to Brian Katowitz:

    They're basing compensation on the frenzy that the media creates? Really? That's pretty weak. It just goes to show how little they seem to grasp the concept of fairness and appropriate compensation. Maybe a little sense of entitlement thrown in there too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, that lack - and the arrogance it sprung from - has been there from the beginning. I suspect that it was driven by anger - long standing, deep seated anger from Lucchino.

    I didn't know the particulars of the events that led to TE leaving and coming back until recently. In the light of day it seems puzzling that he did.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I think that's a pretty good read on the situation, MB. Maybe I'm a bit biased because I don't like Lucchino to begin with, but that makes a lot of sense to me.

  • From a Red Sox perspective, or any team's perspective, they value their own higher than they should. They hadn't won in 86 years, and this boy wonder comes along and helps them get two in a three year span. Then they trade him to another cursed team. From their point of view, why wouldn't the Cubs pay a crap load to get a guy who has done it before?

    Well, Red Sox Nation, while there is no doubt the guy is intelligent and one of the best out there, the fact is he is not going to be scooping up Castro's errant throws or hitting the game winning homer in the 9th. Yes, he picks who these guys are, but he has a large front office to assist him with this. So fans from the North East, while Theo appreciates your bloated view of his actual worth, reality states otherwise.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    There's been arguments made too that GMs all have access to the same sort of information these days and Dave Cameron wrote an article on that premise. TangoTiger calculated it by his salary compensation and equated him to a backup catcher. When you look at it objectively, there just isn't going to be a whole lot coming back.

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    Selig should have stepped in a long time ago, cited precedent, and put Boston in it's place. I feel sorry for Cherington. He appears to be a GM in title only.

  • Agreed. As much as they say otherwise, a lot of what's going on in Boston now has Lucchino's fingerprints on it, particularly the Valentine hiring. They can spin it however they want, but Epstein once temporarily left the Red Sox because of power struggles with Lucchino in the past, and now that there's a new, first time GM in charge I'm sure Lucchino was made his power grab.

  • I hope that it is not deceided by Bub, but by one of his guys
    with somebaseball knowledge.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I actually think Bud will be fair. We'll probably lose something of some value, but it won't be a top prospect and probably not anyone who projects to be a starter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Any player(s) you can think of that might be taken

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I meant to say, any player(s) your worried we might loose.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    My guess right now is a RP with the high end being someone like Chris Carpenter and the low end being someone like John Gaub, Alberto Cabrera, or Marcos Mateo.

  • I think it will be intersting to see how Boston reacts to getting a mid level prospect... will they cry foul and file an appeal or will they go the route of trying to talk they guy up like he's the next coming... stay tuned!

  • In reply to My3Stooges:

    I'm guessing all of the above!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    why dont we just call it a day and send them soriano free of charge.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Haha! Sure, we'll even make sure he gets off the plane.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    i will personally escort him to fenway for his meeting with ben, larry and john. and i think it would be ricketts pleasure to pay for his apartment during his time there.

  • I expect a lot of "Larrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy" chants in the bleachers when the BoSox visit Wrigley this year. He hasn't handled this well. Hopefully Uncle Bud will end this quickly.

    In other news....sounds like the Darvish talks are not going well. There could be a major suitor for Garza if a deal doesn't get completed by 4:00 today.

  • In reply to cowboy2024:

    That is something to watch, although I sort of expected this to go down to the wire from the get go. Darvish has a lot of pride and expects to get paid while the Rangers are understandably wary of giving a big contract to a pitcher who hasn't faced MLB hitters with any regularity.

    We'll see what happens if Darvish goes unsigned. In my opinion, it's unlikely Texas would invest in lesser FAs like Edwin Jackson, but not out of the question. Definitely something to keep your eye on as Texas obviously has the pieces to get this done quickly if they choose.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I read that the length of the contract is the holdup. Darvish wants 5 years at the most, Texas wants 6.

  • The latest news is that the Rangers are close to signing Darvish, so maybe one side caved on that part of the deal?

  • We should keep in mind exactly what Boston is receiving compensation for. Namely, the one lame-duck year remaining on Epstein's contract. It is clear that Epstein was not going to continue with the Red Sox past 2012 even if the Cubs had not come calling. So Selig's task should be to place a value on that one year remaining on his contract and not some more ephemeral valuation of Epstein overall.

    It is also worth noting the benefits the Red Sox have already received. Specifically, they are not paying for the last year on Epstein's contract. Nor are they paying his completion bonus. While Red Sox fans will say that the team has money to spare, smart organizations do not throw away millions of dollars. While I do not think that those benefits negate Boston's claim for compensation, they should be accounted for in determining what that compensation is.

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    dont forget that hes agreed not to hire any of the employees in the red sox organization for the next 3 years.

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    Those are great points RSBeast and thanks for bringing them up. All of that stuff should be factored in. I think it's important that it's one year they lost, as it seemed pretty certain Epstein was going to leave anyway. At any rate, we cannot assume anyone will stay beyond their contract years. The money saved is also a factor. You hope that Selig takes all of that into account.

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    I wonder if Crane Kenney's initial conversation with Larry Lucchino's is going to come to light. Did he make any initial overtures to Larry on the type of compensation the Cubs would give them for the right to discuss hiring Epstein? I assume Selig will want to know all of the facts and hopefully nothing will come back to bite the Cubs.

  • What if they switched nicknames? Then we'd have two pairs of Sox in Chicago. Good for those Coooold days at the park.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Red Sox would want major compensation for that too ;)

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