Epstein: Cubs, Sox still discussing compensation

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Epstein: Cubs, Sox still discussing compensation

It's been three months, but everyone's still waiting.

What will the Red Sox receive as compensation for allowing former general manager Theo Epstein take the job as Cubs president?

Epstein checked in with WEEI Thursday morning to discuss several subject matters, including compensation -- a interesting topic in that Epstein himself is now helping to decide how much he's worth.

Epstein joined the Cubs in October, but an agreement between the Sox and Cubs has still not been reached. Commissioner Bud Selig interjected at one point to help finalize the deal, but he has presumably stepped back and the wait has continued.

"I think you have to put it in context," Epstein said. "In the history of baseball with all the executives that have changed teams, many of which were on lateral moves, let alone those who left for promotions like I did, throughout the history of baseball there's really only been a handful of instances where there's been any compensation whatsoever for executives.

"If you wanted to look at precedent, you'd say, 'Well, whether I'm worth nothing, or something,' -- you would probably get some opinions on that if you ask your callers -- the bottom line is when executives change teams there is no compensation. There have been a handful of instances where there is compensation, and that compensation has been pretty reasonable. If you look when Andy MacPhail, who had won two World Series, left on a lateral move from Minnesota to Chicago back in '94, his compensation was like the 30th ranked prospect in the Cubs system and a little bit of cash."

Epstein didn't say if the Red Sox deserved a similar level of compensation. He did agree, however, that they deserved something since those were the terms of the deal to let him walk with one year left on his contract with the Red Sox.

"So I think when you say there should be compensation here, there should be because we agreed there should be compensation, so that's part of the gig. But I think you have to look at history and you have to look at the precedent involved and realize there is not precedent for major, major compensation here. But the bottom line is we need to figure this out, and we will. Both sides are still working on it because it was agreed to and you have to live up to your word. If you agree that there is compensation there has to be compensation, and there should be. You look at precedent as a guide and try to do something that's appropriate given the more than century-old history of baseball.

"Ben and I have been trying to work it out. I think normally Ben and I could work it out, but there's just a little bit of a different perspective. The expectations were different at the time. We're trying to figure something out that makes the Red Sox happy, but also fits with a century of baseball precedent. I can honestly say this one has been turned over and discussed in the media a lot more than it has between the clubs. Ben and I have had five conversations on in the last few months. We've gotten close but we haven't gotten it done. Maybe we'll need some help to get it done. I want both sides to be happy if possible."

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.