Theo Epstein Rumors

Cafardo On Napoli, Lohse, Upton, Bourn, Soriano

It has been six weeks since the Red Sox and Mike Napoli agreed to terms on a three-year, $39MM contract. The holdup in finalizing the deal is concern with one of Napoli's hips and the team's desire to write protective language into the contract. Recently, we learned the Red Sox are continuing negotiations with Napoli, but would like to shorten the deal to just one year and have been in contact with the Nationals about Mike Morse. A major league source told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe this about Napoli's hip, "It’s one of those things where it could go anytime or five years from now. Nobody really knows, which is why the Red Sox want strong language after putting $40 million on the table for him.” Cafardo believes it's starting to make sense for the Red Sox to trade for Justin Morneau or to make Daniel Nava a first baseman/left fielder. More from Cafardo:

  • That Kyle Lohse is still available at this late date is somewhat of a stunner to Cafardo. Lohse's market has been stunted with him being tied to draft pick compensation and that no one seems willing to go beyond two years, although several teams needs starting pitching and his stuff translates to both leagues. 
  • Draft pick compensation has also shrunk the market for Michael Bourn. Another factor, according to a NL GM, has been the Twins trading both Denard Span and Ben Revere and the Braves signing B.J. Upton.
  • Cafardo thought it was strange for Justin Upton to reject his trade to Seattle since it's one of the nicest cities in the country and the fences at Safeco Field have been moved in.
  • Cubs President Theo Epstein has come to realize Alfonso Soriano is an excellent clubhouse presence because of his willingness to help younger players. With that and his excellent 2012 season, Epstein wants a player of note in any deal where the Cubs eat a majority of the $36MM left on Soriano's contract.
  • Discussions to include Garrett Jones in the Joel Hanrahan trade never progressed very far because "the Pirates really valued Jones highly," a major league source told Cafardo.   
  • One NL GM told Cafardo Roy Oswalt may still want to pitch, but on his terms and perhaps for only a half a season. Many teams have given up trying to persuade the 35-year-old to pitch, feeling the vibe is that he just doesn’t want it bad enough. Cafardo also notes Oswalt suffered a forearm strain at the end of his time with the Rangers last season. 
  • Bobby Valentine has turned down some opportunities to serve as an advisor for teams. Valentine has instead decided to focus on expanding his restaurant business, growing his film company, and working for NBC Sports since being fired as manager of the Red Sox.

AL East Notes: Epstein, Cherington, Encarnacion

It was on this day in 1996 that Cal Ripken Jr. became professional baseball's all-time iron man.  Though Ripken eclipsed Lou Gehrig's Major League record for consecutive games played in 1995, it took a while longer to surpass Japan's Sachio Kinugasa, who played in 2215 NPL straight games between 1970 and 1987.

Here's some news from both Ripken's Orioles and elsewhere around the AL East…

  • Theo Epstein spoke to media (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) about his days as the Red Sox general manager, noting that he felt some of the club's free agent signings deviated from the franchise's long-term plan and were made due to the pressure of staying competitive.  It's a must-read piece for Red Sox fans, not to mention Cubs fans who could see what Epstein hopes to avoid during his tenure in Chicago.
  • We’re going to go see hundreds of players over the next few weeks,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “We may end up just acquiring one of those or none of them. In this particular year, we do believe we’re going to get impact players just by getting healthy. Still, we have to come together. I think this team still will be very good.”
  • The Blue Jays could look to move Edwin Encarnacion, Kelly Johnson or "any bullpen piece" at the trade deadline if the team isn't in serious contention, opines FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi in a radio interview with the Brady & Lang show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (Sportsnet.ca's Jeff Simmons has a partial transcript).
  • Encarnacion's breakout season could put him in line for a big free agent contract this winter but Morosi says "a lot of GMs are wary" about Encarnacion's ability to play first base on a regular basis. "If you're viewed as a DH, that will affect his valuation going forward," Morosi said.  "So we'll see how often he plays in the field and not having [Vladimir Guerrero] coming will certainly change how often he'll play first base."
  • The Orioles and Blue Jays have both been scouting the Cubs, reports Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.  Levine specified that Baltimore was looking at the Cubs' starting pitchers and Alfonso Soriano.
  • For more AL East news, check out this batch of Yankees notes and the latest on the Kevin Youkilis trade rumors.

Cubs Not Moving Castro, Epstein Confirms

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has denied that his team is exploring deals for Starlin Castro, report Doug Padilla and Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.  "Starlin Castro is the type of player we're looking to build around," Epstein said. "There has been no trade consideration with him whatsoever."

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported earlier today that the Cubs were open to dealing anyone but Jeff Samardzija from the roster, including Castro, who was reportedly available for the price of "two impact prospects."  Castro, 22, is under team control through 2016 and is arbitration-eligible for the first of four years this winter due to his Super Two status.

Padilla and Levine cite an Epstein quote from earlier in the week, where the executive said that while no player was entirely untouchable, some players "are core pieces that it's almost impossible to foresee moving. You would have to be completely blown away to even contemplate it."  Clearly it would take such a knockout trade offer for the Cubs to swap Castro, who would be the most sought-after trade chip in baseball if Chicago actually put him on the market.  It wouldn't be out of the question for the Cubs to ask for not just two major prospects in exchange, but also for a team to take Alfonso Soriano's big contract (roughly $48MM remaining through 2014) off the Cubs' hands.



Cubs Notes: Epstein, Jackson, Southpaws

Here's the latest from Wrigleyville….

  • "We need more talent. We lack impact talent,” Theo Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat) in regards to his team's minor league system.  "We have a number of interesting guys, especially at the lower levels. Every organization has interesting guys at the lower levels….We need some more impact talent and we need some guys who have the ability to break through. It'd be nice to get a breakthrough player or two this year and have someone move from that interesting prospect category to that potential impact category."
  • If the Cubs trade one of their current outfielders, there is no guarantee prospect Brett Jackson will be automatically called up to fill the spot, writes ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine as part of an online chat with fans.  The Cubs want to make sure Jackson is "completely ready" to play in the majors, and Levine says the Cubs may also be thinking about service clock considerations.
  • The Cubs have spent the last few weeks looking to acquire a left-handed reliever, writes Levine.
  • Also from Levine, he predicts Matt Garza is looking for a five-year, $65MM contract extension akin to John Danks' new deal with the White Sox.  The Cubs said they wanted to discuss a multiyear deal with Garza during Spring Training, though there has been little news about the status of these negotiations.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Damon, Axford

On this date 20 years ago, the Cubs released 29-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer. The southpaw didn't pitch in the Major Leagues again that year, but he returned in 1993 and has since pitched 3,300 innings and won 233 games. His career isn't over yet, as the Rockies may add him to their rotation. Here are today's links…

  • The Red Sox had complete access to Chris Carpenter's medical records before acquiring him from the Cubs, Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe report. The reliever also passed two physicals earlier this year, so the Red Sox aren't likely to obtain a different player from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein even though Carpenter underwent elbow surgery yesterday.
  • ESPN.com’s Buster Olney wonders if the Indians could pursue free agent Johnny Damon instead of trading for Bobby Abreu (Twitter link). Dave Cameron of FanGraphs explores the Damon-Indians possibility and says it's hard to argue he’s a worse option than Abreu.
  • The Brewers have exchanged figures with closer John Axford regarding a possible extension, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. "I'm not going to jump at anything," Axford said.

Cubs, Red Sox Finalize Epstein Compensation

After a months-long wait, the Cubs and Red Sox have finalized the compensation for Theo Epstein. The Red Sox sent 19-year-old prospect Jair Bogaerts to the Cubs to complete the deal, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports.  

The Cubs sent relievers Chris Carpenter and Aaron Kurcz to Boston as compensation for Epstein earlier in the offseason. Carpenter will undergo elbow surgery, but the Cubs say the operation wasn't caused by a pre-existing condition. “It’s certainly something we had no knowledge of,” GM Jed Hoyer said, according to Muskat. “I don’t think he had any elbow issues for the last two years. It’s unexpected and unfortunate."

Bogaerts completed his second pro season in 2011. The first baseman posted a .288/.387/.404 line in 186 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League. He is the brother of top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts.


Olney On Blue Jays, Epstein, Dodgers, Padres

The Blue Jays have J.P. Arencibia catching at the Major League level and top prospect Travis d'Arnaud could be MLB-ready within the year. It seems like a good problem to have for Toronto, but other teams view the Blue Jays’ depth as a possible opportunity, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports… 

  • Teams have asked about Arencibia and d’Arnaud in trade talks, Olney writes. However, it’s very possible that the Blue Jays will keep both unless they’re completely overwhelmed by an offer. D’Arnaud is slated for more minor league seasoning while Jeff Mathis backs Arencibia up, so the Blue Jays don’t have to make a decision any time soon.
  • Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has a bonus in his contract that resembles the conclusion bonus he had with the Red Sox, Olney writes. Epstein also has standard bonuses for team success.
  • Steve Cohen made an impressive presentation in his bid for the Dodgers, Olney hears.
  • The Padres love what they see in outfield prospect Rymer Liriano.

Red Sox Ownership On Scutaro, Payroll, Valentine

The Red Sox ownership group spoke to the media at the team's Spring Training complex this morning, with chairman Tom Werner saying this season "is going to be a new chapter." Here's a recap of their media session, with all source links going to Twitter…

  • When asked if he and his partners would consider selling the Red Sox, ownerJohn Henry said, "It's a valid question … people involved in RedSox partnership, we've made enough money," tweets Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
  • Henry didn't sound thrilled about the compensation his team received from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Henry did say that's how tough negotiations go, calling it a "basic misunderstanding" according to Tim Britton of The Providence Journal.
  • Team president Larry Lucchino said the Marco Scutaro trade was "a little bit of both," meaning a baseball move and a financial move. They believe they can get similar production from other players. (Heyman)
  • Henry said the luxury tax will be a "bigger issue every year moving forward" and the team has to be "more careful" spending money, according to Heyman and Britton. He noted that other clubs are catching up economically.
  • Lucchino said payroll would be upwards of $190MM according to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, adding that the team will have money to make moves within the season.
  • "So far, he's done everything we could have hoped," said Werner when asked about new manager Bobby Valentine, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
  • Henry backed off his comments about not wanting Carl Crawford from earlier this offseason according to McAdam, saying: "I should have never made those comments."

Red Sox Receive Chris Carpenter, PTBNL From Cubs For Epstein, PTBNL

The Red Sox received 26-year-old righty reliever Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein and a player to be named later, announced the teams today.  The Cubs hired Epstein as their president of baseball operations in October, despite one year remaining on his contract as Boston's GM.  Nearly four months after that announcement, Epstein and new Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reached a compensation agreement with former colleague and new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington.  Epstein said in a statement:

"I am relieved that this process is over and particularly pleased that the teams were able to reach agreement on their own without intervention from MLB.  I truly hope and believe that this resolution will benefit both clubs, as well as Chris, who is an extremely talented reliever joining a great organization at a time when there's some opportunity in the major league bullpen.  More than anything, I'm excited that we can all move forward and focus exclusively on getting ready for the season.  I wish Chris and the Red Sox nothing but the best in 2012 and beyond."

Carpenter, who made his big league debut with the Cubs last year, was recently ranked 13th on their prospect list by Baseball America.  The Cubs converted Carpenter to relief late in 2010, and he averaged 96.5 miles per hour on his fastball in the Majors last year.  His command and control are works in progress, but Baseball America thinks he could develop into a setup man.  The Red Sox placed Bobby Jenks on the 60-day DL to create a 40-man roster spot for Carpenter.

The inclusion of two players to be named later means this saga has not quite reached its conclusion, but an April 15th deadline is already in place and Cherington expects resolution by the end of spring training.  The Cubs also owe compensation to the Padres for Hoyer, which Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune notes will get done very soon and will not involve anyone on the team's 40-man roster.

WEEI's Alex Speier first reported the Red Sox would receive a pitcher from the Cubs' 40-man roster.


Epstein Compensation Deal Is Close

9:15am: The Red Sox will receive a pitcher from the Cubs' 40-man roster, tweets WEEI's Alex Speier.  That'd rule out McNutt.  Rafael Dolis, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Beliveau, and Casey Weathers are on the Cubs' 40-man and cracked Baseball America's top 30 prospects for the team.  The decision is coming down today, confirms Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

7:36am: A resolution on the Theo Epstein compensation deal is imminent, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.  Edes' MLB source says the Red Sox will receive one quality minor leaguer, a legitimate big-league prospect, from the Cubs.  The decision might come today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The Cubs hired Epstein as their president of baseball operations in October.  Epstein resigned from Boston's GM position with one year remaining as part of the process, and the teams have not been able on agree which Cubs players the Red Sox will receive as compensation.  The commissioner's office has gotten involved, with the teams submitting briefs recently.  In January, Epstein explained his stance on WEEI: "There's no precedent for major, major compensation here."

The Cubs are not loaded with top-ranked prospects and young players, but I think it's safe to assume Matt Garza, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Javier Baez, and probably Matt Szczur will not be involved.  Given MLB's involvement, perhaps a player in the Cubs' next tier of prospects could be included, such as Trey McNutt.  Check out Kevin Goldstein's Cubs prospect rankings for Baseball Prospectus here.