10/18 Waiting for Theo, Day 7
On Oct. 27, 2009, a travel day during the World Series between the Yankees and Phillies, the Cubs held a news conference at Wrigley Field to announce the Ricketts family had completed the sale of the ballclub. MLB discourages teams from announcements during the World Series but made an exception for the Cubs that year. Could that happen again so the Cubs can name their next general manager?
One week ago, reports surfaced that the Cubs and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein had agreed in principle to a five-year deal. But Epstein has one year left on his contract, and the two teams have been discussing compensation and who, if any, of his staff can accompany him to Chicago. The two teams can set their own deadline to complete negotiations but Game 1 of the World Series between the Cardinals and Rangers is Wednesday night. No news conference was scheduled Tuesday for the Stadium Club at Wrigley Field.
The Red Sox apparently are trying to restock their pitching in the Minor Leagues. There were reports the Red Sox aimed high and asked for starter Matt Garza as compensation but the Cubs rejected that option. Boston was believed to be targeting right-hander Trey McNutt, who was currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. A 32nd-round pick in 2009, McNutt battled blisters and a bruised rib cage this season at Double-A Tennessee and was 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 23 games. McNutt, 22, was 10-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts at Class A and Double-A in 2010.
Another arm in the mix could be right-hander Chris Carpenter, a third-round pick in 2008, who pitched in relief at Tennessee, Triple-A Iowa and briefly with the Cubs this season. But Chicago doesn’t have much depth in the system, which was evident this past season when the Cubs lost Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells to injuries after their first starts and struggled to fill their spots in the rotation.
There is some precedent. In 1994, after agreeing to terms with Twins GM Andy MacPhail to become president and CEO, the Cubs sent Class A pitcher Hector Trinidad to the Twins as compensation. Trinidad never made it to the big leagues.
Interim GM Randy Bush has handled the Cubs day to day operations the last two months, but there are decisions to be made once the World Series ends. Free agency begins five days after the final out. The Cubs staff also is on hold. Manager Mike Quade is under contract for 2012 but only hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is believed to be signed for next year. The others have contracts that expire at the end of October.
In Epstein’s nine years as GM, the Red Sox won two World Series and reached the postseason six times. What’s that worth? Friday is a travel day for the Cardinals and Rangers. Perhaps Cubs and Red Sox followers will find out then.
– Carrie Muskat