Nick Cafardo hasn't won any favorites among Chicago fans with his opinions on the whole Theo Epstein saga. From the time the Cubs were courting him to the compensation issue, Cafardo hasn't exactly had an objective opinion.
Gordon Edes is a different story. He he hasn't written as often about Epstein, but when he has it has been a more balanced, objective viewpoint.
Today on ESPN Boston, Edes wrote the following...
At this stage, the source says, the Sox are hopeful of acquiring one quality minor-league prospect from the Cubs. They’re resigned to not getting a major leaguer from the Cubs, and acknowledge it probably won’t be one of the Cubs’ premium prospects, like a Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters. But the source says the Sox are insisting on acquiring a prospect with a legitimate chance of making it to the big leagues as a contributor.
The Red Sox expect a decision in the coming week, the source said.
This type of player is more in line with the prospects the White Sox received for Ozzie Guillen and what the Twins received for Andy McPhail.
A "chance to make it to the big leagues" entails a lower level minor leaguer, probably a Class A player, maybe AA -- something that was speculated by Peter Gammons a couple of weeks ago.
Dae Un Rhee would be at the top of the scale when it comes to pitchers at the Class A level. Ben Wells is also a guy who fits that description. It would make sense if it were a pitcher at that skill level/ability -- but I think (or hope?) it might be a little high. Other pitchers who fit the description of "a prospect with a legitimate chance of making it to the big leagues as a contributor" are Eric Jokisch, Marcus Hatley, Austin Kirk, and Aaron Kurcz. As far as hitters go, it could be someone like Logan Watkins.
My thought on the ultimate decision is that it will be one that will put the onus on the team with the executive. They're the ones who will have to determine their GMs value. In other words, if you think this GM is too valuable to risk losing, then the responsibility is on the team to deny permission. There shouldn't be a situation where a team allows an executive to talk to another team and then cries foul when they come to an agreement.
If the compensation is low, then a team will make an honest evaluation of the GMs worth. If they know that the best they can gain is a Class A pitcher, then they'll evaluate the GM on his own merit instead of trying to use the system to acquire a top player or prospect.
In Boston's case, how much value is one year of Theo Epstein? Is his value that much higher in the last year of his contract than it would be to promote Ben Cherington a year early? There are some benefits to Boston if they choose the latter: they wouldn't have a lame duck GM, they'll save money, they can promote other valued execs who might have otherwise gotten better opportunities elsewhere, and they can start building their new front office a year early with an up and coming GM. We're not talking about what Theo Epstein is worth in a vacuum. The amount of the compensation should be equal to the cost of letting Theo Epstein go a year early minus the benefit of promoting Ben Cherington a year early. It shouldn't be worth all that much, certainly not a top player or prospect. As long as Boston's prepared and willing to make that relatively minor change they should give permission with some reasonable expectation of compensation. If they think replacing Theo with Cherington a year early will be such a huge setback that it would require a top player to compensate them, then they should simply deny permission. That is how the system is meant to work. It isn't meant to be used as a means to acquire top talent from other ballclubs. My guess is that Bud Selig would agree with that statement and in the end, his decision will reflect this more rational point of view.