Theo: Compensation talks might need help

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
3:32
PM CT


Theo Epstein said Thursday he is not sure if the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox can resolve their compensation issue without the help of Major League Baseball.

The two clubs agreed there would be some sort of compensation for Epstein, who left his job as Boston general manager to be the Cubs president of baseball operations in October.

"Well you have to put it in context," Epstein said on "The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show" on WEEI in Boston. "In the history of baseball of all the baseball executives who have left teams, only a handful of them have been awarded compensation. We did agree that compensation would be a part of it, but there is no precedent for major, major compensation. I think the expectations were different when Andy MacPhail left the Minnesota Twins to take the Cubs general manager job after winning two World series. On a lateral move in 1994, the compensation was a 30th-ranked prospect and a little bit of cash [$200,000, according to an ESPNChicago.com source].

"We need to figure this out. Both sides are working on it. [Red Sox GM] Ben [Cherington] and I have been trying to work it out and you know normally Ben and I could work it out, but it's a little bit of a different perspective where the expectations were kind of different at the time. It's been discussed a lot more in the media than it has with the clubs. Ben and I have had five conversations with it in the last few months. We've gotten close, but we just haven't gotten it done. Maybe we will need some help to get it done. I want both sides to be happy if possible."

That help would come from Major League Baseball, which insisted earlier in the process that if it had to get involved it would. Commissioner Bud Selig has told both sides that it's in the best interest of the teams to get the compensation done themselves.

It appears Red Sox president Larry Lucchino has held the line on demanding a top prospect from the Cubs as compensation.

Clearly Lucchino's perspective is that the loss of Epstein had a big impact on the Red Sox, but that thinking could be perceived as skewed since Boston let Epstein go with one year left on his deal.

• Epstein said regardless of how the Red Sox season ended in 2011 -- which included blowing a nine-game lead in September and missing the playoffs -- he was likely to leave his job."[Epstein and Cherington] talked about [Epstein leaving] all year long," Epstein said. "As a matter of fact we talked about it for years saying the end is coming after being with the Red Sox for 10 years. It really transcends what happened in one month in September."

• Epstein said the Cubs job was the only one that intrigued him after hearing they were going in a new direction when Jim Hendry was fired as GM in July."I still would have followed through with exploring my desire to explore an opportunity in Chicago even if we won," Epstein said. "That was a product of working 10 years and wanting to challenge myself in a new environment."

• Epstein has formed a new charitable foundation, Foundation To Be Named Later, that sets up college funds for needy students. A live auction on Jan. 30 can be found at www.foundationtobenamedlater.org with multiple links to charities.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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