Epstein Compensation In Selig’s Hands

The Red Sox requested in late December that MLB commissioner Bud Selig resolve the Theo Epstein compensation issue, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  The Cubs were granted permission to speak to Epstein by the Red Sox and hired him as president of baseball operations in October.  Since then, the two teams have been unable to determine what compensation the Red Sox should receive for Epstein, since he had a year remaining on his contract.

Back on November 17th, Epstein said talks were "very amicable" and lots of jokes were being made on the topic.  At that point, the plan was to re-engage after the Rule 5 draft, which happened on December 8th.  

Last Thursday on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show, Epstein said he and new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington were trying to work it out, but they might need some help to get it done.  Epstein explained his stance: "Throughout the history of baseball, there's really only a handful of instances in which there's been any compensation whatsoever for executives."  He added that in those cases, "compensation has been pretty reasonable.  When Andy MacPhail, who had won two World Series, left on a lateral move from Minnesota to Chicago back in '94, his compensation was the 30th-ranked prospect in the Cubs' system [Hector Trinidad] and a little bit of cash."  In Epstein's opinion, "There's no precedent for major, major compensation here."  The Red Sox feel that Epstein is more valuable than MacPhail or any manager, according to Wittenmyer, and CEO Larry Lucchino has at various points floated the names of Matt Garza and Brett Jackson.

103 Responses to Epstein Compensation In Selig’s Hands Leave a Reply

  1. Jason 3 years ago

    It was a promotion, if anything they should get a 40 year old A ball player.

    • Philip Marlowe 3 years ago

      But if Crash Davis goes to the Red Sox, who’ll teach Nuke LaLoosh how to pitch?!

    • llyolf 3 years ago

      Can we send them Bobby Scales or Ready Freddy Bynum?

    • How can going to the Cubs be considered a promotion?  Sounds like a demotion.

  2. tfsmag 3 years ago

    lolz… red sox are gonna get a 30 year old AAA guy now.

  3. It was a promotion in which the Sox did not have to grant him the chance to get….But none the less they did with an understanding that compensation would come out of it. Key point here is he was still under contract with the Red Sox

    • jb226 3 years ago

      Key point here is he was still under contract with the Red Sox

      Yes, that’s the reason the Red Sox are getting compensation at all.  If you think anything significant is going to come of it at this point, I would advise not holding your breath.

      (Edit) Honestly, why don’t the Red Sox take money at this point? Rumor was that was what the Cubs wanted to do from the get-go, the Cubs have it with all the not-spent money that came off the books this season, it would allow the Red Sox to consider more seriously a move for somebody like Roy Oswalt to counter the pitching the Yankees have acquired, and quite frankly it may be more valuable than the player they get back with Selig now in charge.

      • start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

        The issue isn’t really about the Sox not having the money to add to payroll. It’s about being under the luxury tax line so they don’t have to pay more money in the future.

        I was hoping to get a reliever out of the deal but at this point I’m just tired of hearing the whole issue.

        • jb226 3 years ago

          Fair enough.  Have they succeeded in getting under? I assume if they’re going to be over anyway the cash would still help.

          On a semi-related note, Lackey’s injury triggered an option at major league minimum right?  My napkin math says that should lower the AAV of the contract by around $2.7MM, that should certainly help.

          • Kurt 3 years ago

            Not until he misses the allotted time.

      • Sourbob 3 years ago

        That makes a ton of sense.

      • I agree.  Have the Cubs pay the Sox 30 million for Theo and call it a day.  

        • jb226 3 years ago


          30 million?  I assume you’re joking.  Theo Epstein’s entire contract is worth slightly more than half of that, there is no way his compensation outstrips his value. The most I could see is essentially one year’s worth of his contract since that is what he was let out of, which comes to about $3.7MM.

    • StanleyHudson 3 years ago

      And the Theo’s reception by the Cubs ownership proves just how valuable the see him.

      • 643dp 3 years ago

        Obviously they thought he was valuable, that is why they hired him.  People seem to forget that it was a promotion!

    • Sully65 3 years ago

      I believe the wording was ‘significant compensation’ was used from the Cubs if the Sox let Theo go.

      • harmony55 3 years ago

        When the Cubs and Red Sox announced Theo Epstein’s hiring, the joint media release referred to “approrpriate” compensation. The media have since cited unidentified Red Sox sources who refer to “significant” compensation.

  4. I am sure that  Allan Huber “Bud” Selig will handle this situation with The Wisdom of King Solomon!
    Snicker, Snicker! =P

  5. Why should there be any compensation? He had a job he was contracted for, asked for and got permission to pursue another job. Now if they wanted to do it where they got something they should have made it a trade.

    Love baseball but one problem I have is everyone always feels like they need to get something but of course the other side doesn’t feel like they should give up anything…or anything worthwhile. Like most people are joking, it’ll probably be some prospect or old Minor League player that will either never see the majors or will likely never be a big impact if they do.

    • andrewyf 3 years ago

      Yep, there’s no written rule that requires a team to compensate for getting someone out of their contract. Basically, Theo quit his current job (which he was free to do at any time, forfeiting the rest of his salary…just like the Red Sox were free to fire him at any time, while paying the rest of his salary), and signed with a different team. There were no ‘non-compete’ clauses of any kind, either. Basically, the Red Sox want a free handout from Uncle Bud Selig. I mean, he gave John Henry the team before, why wouldn’t he continue to help the guy out?

      • ellisburks 3 years ago

        However, the Cubs wanted to talk to Theo while he was still employed by the Red Sox and before Theo quit his job, in order for this to happen the Cubs had to ask permission and when they did they said if they hire him they will compensate the Red Sox. If they didn’t do that then they couldn’t talk to him as it would have been tampering. So the Cubs agreed to compensate the Red Sox and they are still waiting for that compensation. Seems logical to me.

        • diddykong 3 years ago

          Don’t even bother…in andrewyf’s world sports contracts are the same as working at burger king. Maybe Garza should quit the Cubs and seek a higher paying job elsewhere…best thing about this compensation thing being resolved will be not having to listen to Cubs fans stand on the only soapbox they’ve had for years. As a Red Sox fan, this whole compensation issue has made me a diehard Cardinals fan when it comes to the National League. I’ll take beer and chicken jokes any day over their beer hazed logic.

          • BDLugz 3 years ago

            Although I agree with you regarding Andrewyf being horribly incorrect, I’d argue the Red Sox stance on this entire compensation issue is much more out of hand than from the Cubs.  Starting talks of with Castro or Garza?  That’s laughable.  There is almost no precedent for something like this, and traditionally promotions from current positions have not required compensation.

            To use your Garza example, it would be like Garza quitting the Cubs and becoming a pitching coach for another team.  Something that he would be allowed to do.  The Red Sox may have had ground to stand on if Epstein was only moved to the Cubs GM spot, but the fact he was given a promotion removes almost all their leverage.

            I expect this to be done with one prospect on the Cubs that’s somewhere between 30-40 in their system depth and both teams just move on.

  6. Just give them a 6 pack and a bucket of KFC

  7. and CEO Larry Lucchino has at various points floated the names of Matt Garza and Brett Jackson.

    At various points, CEO Larry Lucchino has been floating in an opium cloud.

  8. They should put them through the arbitration system.

  9. M_Harden 3 years ago

    What about the Padres?

    • Philip Marlowe 3 years ago

      I don’t believe the Cubs ever stipulated that they would compensate the Padres in order to speak to Hoyer/McLeod. I’m not sure of that though, just speculation.

  10. It would be bad for baseball if any player of value was returned to Boston for a GM.  That said, watch Selig give Boston Garza and a high future draft pick!

    • flickadave 3 years ago

      Why would it be bad for baseball? I would argue all day that the most valuable person in baseball is Tampa’s GM. Why shouldn’t a team be compensated with someone of equal value as the exec they acquire? MLB is the only business I can think of where you can steal another businesses talented execs that are under contract without compensation as long as you give the person a better job title.

      • Why would it be bad? Let’s see, it would set a terrible precedent in which FRONT OFFICE workers can be traded for players! Do we really want to see that!?!? I’ll trade you our scout in the dominican republic for ryan raburn, do we have a deal?!? It’s a slippery slope that could quickly turn into a DISASTER!

      • xcal1br 3 years ago

        Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Nobody stole anything.  Let’s all calm down here.

        If Boston still wanted Theo to work for them, then he would be working for them.  It is that simple.  It was Mr. Henry’s choice to let him go.  Theo was under contract and was therefore unable to be “stolen” from the Red Sox.

  11. Red_Line_9 3 years ago

    Well, if it’s in Selig’s hands now…there’s a chance for a resolution sometime between now and East Hell.  Guessing with the Oakland-San Jose situation on the front burner….old Bud hasn’t much time to look around at what’s thawing on the warmer.

  12. Do the Cubs owe the Padres anything for Hoyer and McLeod?

  13. Mike1L 3 years ago

    The likelihood is that this will not end well-at least one team is going to be dissatisfied.  Lost in the discussion was Theo’s old contract, which had what amounted to a large roster bonus if he stayed his last year.  Boston didn’t have to pay it-Chicago made it up to Theo in his new deal.  Now, if time wasn’t an issue, and if Boston really didn’t care if Theo went or stayed (but didn’t mind cleaning house after the collapse last year) the negotiations would probably have been something along the lines of the Cubs offering less than the Sox wanted, the Sox saying they would only go for Garza-like compensation, and the Cubs just saying “nope, can’t make the deal, enjoy paying Theo his roster bonus.”  Then they would have settled on something more reasonable.  But time was a consideration-for all three parties-for the Cubs (who wanted a new GM) the Sox (who probably were happy to see him go) and for Selig (who wanted the issue off the front pages and for both teams to make fresh starts).  If this is the case (and I realize I’m speculating, but I think it’s likely) there was a presumption that the parties would deal in good faith and that compensation would be reasonable.  If the resolution is not a fair one, that’s going to cause some real trouble.

  14. SierraM363 3 years ago

    Time for Selig to decide the meaning of “significant compensation”.

  15. Jeff Jones 3 years ago

    Yes Theo was under contracy but for 1 more year. The Cubs could have stayed staus quo with Crane Kenney and waited for Theo to fufill his obligations. Theo then would have gone to the Cubs for nothing. Cubs are rebuilding waiting 1 year for a  new president doesnt seem like much time to wait. 

    • Parker 3 years ago

      Yeah they could have. Guess what they didn’t. They agreed they would compensate the Sox for Theo of they hired him. All you Cub fans who say the Cubs could have waited drive me crazy. They didn’t wait. This point is moot. Let’s please get this AAAA player and move on.

      • Jeff Jones 3 years ago

        My point was that the Red Sox dont have as much leverage as they thought and getting a high prospect is out of the question–the Sox
        should be happy with a midlevel prospect.

      • Thumbs up from a Cubs fan for decrying the idea of “they could have waited”, and also for knowing its going to be a “4A”-type player.  Despite the rhetoric, this isn’t going to be a big deal.

  16. brian_dfhl 3 years ago

    Interesting to see how different clubs handle things like this.  Some say that they will not stand in the way of letting an employee take a better job in another organization and some want compensation to let an employee out of a contract no matter if it is a promotion. 

  17. Don’t forget, we really don’t have crap down on the farm…..hence the reason they brought in Theo & the boys!

  18. cachhubguy 3 years ago

    As soon as Theo was allowed to leave for Chicago, the Red Sox lost all leaverage. Selig is not going to change the precedent that has already been set for management changing teams. Like it or not, McPhail is the comparison.

  19. cmock 3 years ago

    I was on the bus with sending someone like Jenks to the Cubs and freeing up cash for a run at Oswalt. Hopefully that is still an option, Jenks isn’t going to be much help next year with the injuries, and he is one of Theo’s mistakes, let him atone for it.

    • Eew.  Its one thing to send punishment to us along with Theo, but do you have to rub it in by smearing a dirty former ShiteSox player our way?  I think it most likely compensation will be in the form of low-to-mid level prospect(s) and *maybe* a little bit of cash.

  20. ratmoss 3 years ago

    Why don’t the Cubs just give the Sox one of the fringe relievers on the 40 man?  Alberto Cabrera or Lendy Castillo look like Hector Trinidad-like options.  Sox get a moderately useful arm while the Cubs clear a roster spot.

  21. mhaftman7 3 years ago

    At this point, I think the Sox are looking at a compensatory pick and MAYBE cash.

  22. Tommy Meyers 3 years ago

    This situation is the EXACT same as the MacPhail situation.  I say the Cubs give the Red Sox their 30th ranked prospect haha

  23. Raymond Holguin 3 years ago

    Selig realizes the cubs actually doing something this year would be a great story for baseball so hes not gonna make them give up anything of importance

  24. Mike1L 3 years ago

    Here’s a guess.  The Sox are waiting before they spend bucks on another starter, hoping Selig gives them Garza (not a dumb decision, why commit? )  But Selig is first and foremost a businessman, and that’s why his contract
    keeps getting extended.  He has to look at this globally, and having a moribund Cubs team is not in MLB’s best interest.  He probably also knows 1) Garza is too much for Theo, and Selig risks weakening the Cubs-either on the field this year, or in building up the farm system if he’s traded. 2) Garza costs money, and that gets the Sox into luxury tax issues, which they may not really want.  The luxury tax issues are short and long term, because instead of signing, say, an Oswalt for one year, and then off-loading his salary, Garza is a longer term financial burden, even if he’s on a team friendly contract right now.  If Selig hands Garza to the Sox, does he also give them a dispensation from the luxury tax rules?  3) The market is valuing starters like Garza at a very high price-if Bud values Theo as Garza (or a Garza return in a contract) doesn’t that make front office people look at their contracts as something that can be traded for player compensation-and don’t they start thinking about more salary?

  25. Victor Kipp 3 years ago

    I’m a Sox fan.  They should have gotten this straight before they even agreed to let him speak to the Cubs.  Lesson learned for other teams in this situation in the future.

  26. Am I the only one that thinks trading FRONT OFFICE EXECUTIVES for players or picks is just wrong!? I would hate for this to get out of control but honestly I can see it happening and it’ just another way the landscape of fair play gets usurped by big markets. 

  27. Blue_Bomb 3 years ago

    What if the Red Sox gave them Bobby Jenks as compensation? They get their $6mm to spend on Oswalt, Cubs get a RP that might bounce back without losing any prospects.

    • 643dp 3 years ago

      No thanks, he already ate his way around Chicago.  Although, the restaurant industry may appreciate it.

    • Tyler Jedrzejak 3 years ago

      Why not the Cubs just give the money for Jenks and you keep him? Sounds like more compensation in a way, Jenks could rebound AND if he doesnt, hes paid for

      • Blue_Bomb 3 years ago

        That doesn’t work. We have to get rid of a commitment. We have the 8mm to spend on Oswalt anyway, but payroll is a measure of how much is spent, not how much is had.

  28. Blue_Bomb 3 years ago

    What if the Red Sox gave them Bobby Jenks as compensation? They get their $6mm to spend on Oswalt, Cubs get a RP that might bounce back without losing any prospects.

  29. Best Deals:
    1. Sox get Garza for Lavarnway, Ranaudo, and cash 
    2. Cubs get Lackey, Sox get Byrd
    3. Cubs just get Lackey
    4. Cubs get Jenks in exchange for Byrd; then sign Oswalt
    5. A first round draft pick
    6. A reliever
    7. Soriano if the Cubs eat his salary

    • Supposedly the Cubs at one point offered to take Lackey.

    • Jeff Jones 3 years ago

      Why would the Cubs want an overpriced overweight pitcher when they just got rid of one that actually will pitch in 2012

  30. Sox get Garza and Byrd for Lackey, Jenks and Dice-K, thats fair

  31. The point is that “significant compensation” was agreed upon before Theo left.  Now, he wants to backtrack on that agreement.  I doubt he said to the Red Sox, “If you let me leave now,  we will work out an agreement on a below-average player for you”   He needs to be a man and honor the deal rather than trying to weasel his way out of it.  Plain and simple.  

  32. The point is that “significant compensation” was agreed upon before Theo left.  Now, he wants to backtrack on that agreement.  I doubt he said to the Red Sox, “If you let me leave now,  we will work out an agreement on a below-average player for you”   He needs to be a man and honor the deal rather than trying to weasel his way out of it.  Plain and simple.  

  33. Retnan 3 years ago

    After demanding Garza they should get nothing but a loogy in the face. 

  34. While of course Epstein is more valuable than McFail, there is good reason to question his value to the Red Sox at the time.  Seeing as they were planning on paying him millions of dollars to chill at home, I believe Selig will look at fair compensation as being something similar to the McFail compensation.  I find it extremely funny that the Red Sox actually think they’re going to get a top prospect.  Didn’t they even suggest Starlin Castro at one point? lulz

  35. Sully65 3 years ago

    I’d rather take Byrd

  36. jammin502 3 years ago

    If Boston wanted Byrd, this would probably be a done deal already.  I think that the Cubs would like to move Byrd to make room for Brett Jackson, but they might want to wait until spring training before making any moves on that.

  37. cyberboo 3 years ago

    There is no way in the world that Boston gets a player off the 25 man roster. It is lunacy.  If MacPhail cost the 30th best prospect in the system, throw their 20th best prospect at the Red Sox and call it a day.  Anything over that is an effort in futility.  Epstein is a GM, he isn’t a superstar five-tool player that takes the field every day.  After what he did to Boston in his last two years, the Red Sox should have paid the Cubs to take him.  Albatross contracts, gutted the farm system, leaving it in the bottom of the leagues.  Cherington will take years to clean up the mess.

  38. Sully65 3 years ago

    I was replying to the send them Soriano. Sox don’t want either Byrd or Soriano, they want an arm they can use in 2012 or 2013.

  39. jammin502 3 years ago

    I would doubt that the compensation would be anything usable in the near future, or ever …

  40. ellisburks 3 years ago

    Soriano in right field in Fenway would be a massive disaster. That would never happen. Even if he was free. Left and centre wouldn’t happen either. He wouldn’t even DH so that is not an option.

  41. Mike1L 3 years ago

    No trouble in the Sox/Cubs compensation, because it’s going to be over and done with except for the griping.  But if the settlement is perceived as unfair to the impartial observer (meaning the remaining teams, because those are the only people who actually count) then this mechanism of deciding compensation is going to go out the window-no one will want to chance it in the future, knowing the Commissioner may not resolve things equitably. Also, if the compensation is too high, you revalue upward the market for executives (like Theo.)  That’s not really in baseball’s better interests, Execs are not front-line players, and shouldn’t be traded that way. 

  42. Philip Marlowe 3 years ago

    Oh god, can you imagine Soriano trying to play the carom off the Green Monster? Just thinking about it makes my brain hurt.

  43. Cubs27 3 years ago

    They’d probably be better off DHing Soriano and putting Ortiz in the OF lol

  44. Philip Marlowe 3 years ago

    You know, we only have one of those left now! It’s kind of strange to think about… I’m so used to us having a handful of albatross contracts to deal with. Really, the second-largest contract on the team belongs to Dempster, who is at least a serviceable pitcher and a good veteran leader.

  45. Give them Josh Vitter. That guy has been a collossal BUST! A straight prospect free fall from the moment he started playing pro ball. 

  46. Milmurph 3 years ago

    Probably more like singles, we are talking Sorianos lack of hustle

  47. Alfonso Soriano won’t thrive ANYWHERE.  He’s an overpaid washup!

  48. cmock 3 years ago

    How would salary relief not be considered compensation? Also I’m sure there are many Red Sox fans, who like myself, weren’t excited with the signing of Jenks. THe guy was nontendered for a reason other than the fact he was getting pricey. Put a little thought in before speaking in generalities.

  49. BillB325 3 years ago

    …. the only way you get Garza and we pay his salary is if Bogaerts, Lavarnway, and Ranaudo come back to the Cubs.

  50. LOL! Interesting write-up, but the ridiculousness about Garza and Cubs pay his salary is, well…ridiculous.

  51. imachainsaw 3 years ago

    you’re joking right?
    Bust? a 22 year old who is gonna be starting next season at AAA? what world do you live in?

  52. llyolf 3 years ago

    How many hops in a Soriano carom catch and throw?

  53. I think the arbitration process forces each side to be somewhat reasonable.  By that logic all teams would offer players nothing and all players would ask for $30 mil. 

    Two cents.

  54. Not sure why it didn’t put my name in there, but I wasn’t trying to reply as a third person.  This is the same Nick who posted the initial recommendation.

  55. Philip Marlowe 3 years ago


  56. baseball52 3 years ago

    The guy has the plate discipline of Alfonso Soriano blindfolded. Not saying he’s a bust yet, but he’s sure on that track.

  57. Then, Execs should have to honor the contracts that they sign and not want to leave early.  There, problem solved.

  58. The Cubs, media, fans have  hailed him as their savior.  But in the same breath, they say they shouldn’t have to part with anything significant for him.   You can’t have it both ways.  

  59. Mike1L 3 years ago

    bd, I’m not saying Execs shouldn’t honor the contracts they made, and I’m not saying the Sox shouldn’t get some compensation under this specific set of circumstances.  But it’s pretty clear to me that it’s in MLB’s general interest to see movement in the front office/managers to try to help ailing franchises-something that happens all of the time (don’t see much compensation going to the White Sox for Ozzie). There’s constant comings and goings,  and it’s common to allow people to discuss other jobs-especially better ones. My real point in this post was if Selig deviates from the past practice of this movement, with infrequent and modest compensation the rule, he’s breaking new ground. He’s telling the rest of baseball owners that he will act punitively-even after he’s blessed the movement (which he did in this case)-depending on who the parties are.  Theo isn’t the first guy to leave. If Selig hands the Sox Garza or a Garza-like compensation, he’s going to give the Sox something they could not have achieved in negotiations with the Cubs if a “trade” had been made last Fall. He’s not there to reward or punish-he’s there to come up with a fair solution, given all the circumstances. 

  60. jb226 3 years ago

    Why not?

    Nobody is doubting that Theo Epstein is a very good GM/President, and he may well be the “savior” for the Cubs.  But there is no precedent for significant compensation for an executive, so why should they have to part with anything significant?  It’s like claiming he’s the “savior” so we should give him a 10/$240MM contract like somebody like Pujols or Fielder wants.  “Savior” has to value at least as high as “superstar player” right?!  It doesn’t work that way, no matter how valuable he is or is not to the Cubs.  The “Savior” makes about $3.7MM a year and that is pretty high for people in his position.

    But honestly, I’m just tired of debating this.  Selig will handle it and we will see where it falls and that’s all there is left to say at this point. I just hope it is resolved soon so we can stop hearing about it.

  61. imachainsaw 3 years ago

    it’s fair to compare his discipline to that of soriano, but power and discipline are usually the last tools to develop, so as long as he can swing the bat I’m all for giving him a fair opportunity to fully develop those aspects

  62. baseball52 3 years ago

    I’ll give you that but reports are that this kid has no desire to keep the bat on his shoulder.

  63. imachainsaw 3 years ago

    well it’s also not unheard of for players who don’t make a habit of working counts to still be successful. like vladdy, or probably more comparable, Michael Young, not much for walking but still valuable because when he swings he tends to make contact more often than not. and from vitters’ minor league numbers, while evident he doesn’t look at a lot of pitches, he also doesn’t whiff too often. so while soriano can’t work counts or make consistent contact, at least from the looks of it, Vitters can make contact. if he doesn’t learn to walk, he’ll need an AVG heavy OBP, but it’s probably achievable with his swing.

    idk there are pros and cons in his game, but I’m trying to stay optimistic, cause it’d be great for the org if he pans out.

  64. baseball52 3 years ago

    Very good outlook to have.

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