10/14 Waiting for Theo, Day 3

The Red Sox apparently want a prospect or two from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein. The two teams continued negotiations Friday over a package to free Epstein from the final year of his contract in Boston and allow him to take over baseball operations in Chicago.

Is Epstein worth Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ highly touted outfield prospect who was the No. 1 pick in 2009? Or do the Red Sox want Matt Szczur, another top Minor Leaguer?

The Cubs and Epstein have reportedly agreed in principle on a five-year deal, believed to be worth $15 million to $18.5 million. But because Epstein has one year remaining on his contract, the Cubs must compensate the Red Sox, and the value was expected to depend on the number of staffers Epstein would take with him to Chicago.

In recent years, when two of Epstein’s co-workers left, they were each allowed to take two Red Sox staffers with them. Josh Byrnes went to the Diamondbacks in 2005, and took two people, including Peter Woodfork, then director of baseball operations. In 2009, Jed Hoyer was able to take scouting director Jason McLeod and Sam Ray, now assistant to the scouting director, when Hoyer went to the Padres.

In 2002, the Red Sox offered Billy Beane the GM job and were prepared to deal Double-A third baseman Kevin Youkilis to the Athletics as compensation. But Beane opted to stay in Oakland. Last month, the White Sox received two of the Marlins’ top five prospects in exchange for letting Ozzie Guillen out of his contract to manage the Florida team.

The Cubs would not comment on the GM search, and the Red Sox declined to comment on Epstein’s status.

The Cubs have been looking for a new GM since Aug. 19 when chairman Tom Ricketts dismissed Jim Hendry. An announcement could come early next week. Major League Baseball discourages teams from making announcements during the World Series, which begins Wednesday.

Ricketts was handling the negotiations with Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, and discussing the targeted players with Cubs interim GM Randy Bush, player development director Oneri Fleita, and scouting director Tim Wilken.

The Cubs farm system was depleted earlier this year when the team acquired Matt Garza from the Rays in exchange for five players, including Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer and Hak-Ju Lee. Jackson, 23, was playing for Team USA now after batting .297 at Triple-A Iowa; Szczur, 22, batted .260 at Class A Daytona. The top pitching prospects include Trey McNutt, 22, who is pitching in the Arizona Fall League now, and Jeff Beliveau, 24, who posted a 1.89 ERA in 41 games at Double-A Tennessee.

– Carrie Muskat

6 Comments

please don’t give up Jackson or Szczur….. i would think Theo wouldn’t like this idea either

If Tom Ricketts is offering Theo Epstein a position with additional responsibilities, term and salary than what Boston offered, this is a promotional opportunity for Theo (not a lateral move), right? As such why do the Cubs have to offer any compensation to Boston? I would think that Boston ownership should allow any of their employees an opportunity to leave for a substantial promotional opportunity elsewhere. If not, Boston ownership risks the reputation of an employer that does not really care about their employees, and who would want to work for an organization like that? Can the Cubs and Theo can play hard ball and communicate that what Boston wants in return for releasing Theo is too much and Theo can return to Boston as an unhappy GM. Does Boston ownership really want to have someone working for them that does not really want to be there? I don’t think so.

I will be very disappointed if the Cubs give up any legitimate prosepects in this deal. If the Cubs walk away from this deal, Boston is stuck with a lame duck general manager. I’m supprised so many believe that it’s the Red Sox who have a superior bargaining position. The Sox have conceded Epstein publicly. If the Cubs give up prospects it will be another example of how incompetent the Cub organization is performing.

Cubs have to compensate Red Sox because Epstein is under contract for one more year. And yes, Epstein apparently has made it clear he didn’t plan on being with the Red Sox for the rest of his life. At least, that’s what team owner John Henry said today in a radio interview in Boston: “He never saw the general manager’s role as longer than 10 years for himself. Maybe he did early on. Certainly, after a few years, he knew that the stress of this job was too much.”

If the Cubs give up top prospects for Epstein, it will take at least another year or two before we some improvement. By that time Epsteins contract will be up and the Cubs will be in the same position.

Epstein isn’t a miracle worker. The Cubs aren’t automatically going to World Series if he takes over as GM. Plus, he’ll have more than “a year or two.” He has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal.

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