The King to name his ransom

The King to name his ransom
October 22, 2011, 3:43 am
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Finally, a resolution.

Sort of, anyway.

Theo Epstein resigned after nine years as the Red Sox general manager Friday night and was named President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, ending what had been a standstill between the two clubs that had lasted the last week-and-a-half.

Epstein will be introduced at a press conference Tuesday at Wrigley Field, joined by Jed Hoyer, who is leaving his post as GM of the San Diego Padres after two years to rejoin Epstein and serve as the Cubs' GM.

On the same day, the Red Sox will introduce Ben Cherington as the team's new general manager at a press conference at Fenway.

Still to be determined, however, is the compensation the Red Sox will receive from the Cubs for allowing Epstein to leave Boston with a year remaining on his contract.

In an odd twist, Epstein's first task with the Cubs will be negotiating with Cherington, his heir apparent, to determine what his (Epstein's) departure is worth for his former employer.

For the past 10 days, Cherington and Cubs assistant GM Randy Bush have been unsuccessfully trying to reach agreement on compensation for Epstein, with input from Red Sox CEO and president Larry Lucchino and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts.

Initially, the Red Sox made big demands, asking for either young star shortstop Starlin Castro or starter Matt Garza. Both were summarily and predictably rejected by the Cubs.

Speculation has been that the Red Sox will end up with two minor-league prospects in exchange for Epstein, but to date, no agreement has been reached.

On Thursday, prior to Game 2 of the World Series, commissioner Bud Selig said it was possible he might have to interject himself into the talks as a mediator if the Red Sox and Cubs couldn't reach a deal.

If Epstein and Cherington fail to agree to terms on compensation by Monday, it's likely that Selig will step in and serve as an arbitrator.

In Chicago, Epstein will be re-united with Hoyer and Jason McLeod, another Padres executive who will be going to the Cubs' front office.

Hoyer, who started with the Red Sox as an intern in 2001, served as co-GM after the 2005 season when Epstein leave the Sox in a dispute. When Epstein returned, Hoyer served as his assistant GM until after the 2009 season when he left to become general manager of the Padres.

McLeod, who was once Epstein's roommate in San Diego when the two worked for the Padres earlier in their careers, served as the Red Sox director of amateur scouting from 2005 through 2009. McLeod is responsible for drafting, among others, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Casey Kelly and Daniel Bard for the Red Sox.

He joined Hoyer as San Diego's assistant GM, a role he's filled for the past two seasons.

Epstein, who joined the Red Sox prior to the 2002 season and served for one year as an assistant to interim GM Mike Port, became the youngest GM (28) in the history of the game in November 2002.

On his watch, the Red Sox won two World Series, reached the ALCS four times and qualified for the playoffs six times. He made bold controversial trades of established superstars (Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra), allowed some popular players to leave via free agency (Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez), and acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Curt Schilling and others in blockbuster deals.

He also succeeded in signing a number of cost-effective players, especially early in his tenure. David Ortiz and Bill Mueller were low-cost, high-performance acquisitions. His drafts were also hailed, as the team's homegrown players included Ellsbury, Buchholz, Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.

But Epstein also missed on some high-priced free agents, led by John Lackey (five years, 82.5 million); Edgar Renteria (four years, 40 million); Julio Lugo (four years, 40 million) and, so far, Carl Crawford (seven years, 142 million).

In his first season as GM, the Red Sox went to Game 7 of the ALCS before losing to the New York Yankees. That winter, Epstein traded for Schilling and signed free agent closer Keith Foulke, two moves which helped the franchise end its 86-year championship drought in 2004.

The Sox won another World Series title in 2007 and reached Game 7 of the ALCS the following year, but have not been as successful of late.

The team was swept in the Division Series in 2009 by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, then failed to qualify for the postseason in 2010, marking the first year out of the playoffs since 2006.

This past season, the team held the best record in the American League for much of the season, but nose-dived in September with a 7-20 record, in the process squandering what has been a 9 12 game lead. The Sox fell short of the post-season again on the final night of the season when the club blew a ninth-inning lead in Baltimore and, minutes later, Tampa Bay completed an incredible comeback from a seven-run deficit to beat the Yankees and claim the A.L. wild card spot.

Within days, Terry Francona was out as manager and word of Epstein's interest in the Cubs job surfaced.

Even as Red Sox owner John Henry and Lucchino refused to acknowledge that the Cubs had asked for permission to speak with their GM, Epstein met with Ricketts twice in the next few days -- once at an undisclosed location away from Chicago and a second time, in Chicago.

He reached agreement on a five-year deal that will pay him, including a conclusion bonus agreement with the Red Sox that was assumed by the Cubs, 18.5 million.