McAdam: Sox and Cubs complete the deal at last

McAdam: Sox and Cubs complete the deal at last
February 21, 2012, 9:17 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was the deal that wasn't, the compensation agreement that seemed to go unresolved forever.

Finally, Tuesday morning, the Chicago Cubs and Red Sox addressed the matter of compensating the Sox for allowing former general manager Theo Epstein to leave and become president of baseball operations of the Cubs with a year remaining on his Boston contract.

Months and months of negotiations ultimately yielded the Sox 26-year-old Chris Carpenter -- not to be confused with the St. Louis Cardinals' Chris Carpenter -- who figures to compete for a bullpen spot in 2012, though he won't necessarily begin the season on the team's major-league roster.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington described Carpenter as a "power arm" whom the Sox have scouted extensively since college, including a stint last year when he pitched in the Arizona Fall League.

"We're really happy to have him," said Cherington. "He's a young power-arm reliever who we think has a chance to be a really good big-league pitcher."

The arrangement took just over four months to settle. When Epstein left the Red Sox in mid-October, it was with the understanding that the teams would settle the compensation issue in relatively quick fashion.

Twice, commissioner Bud Selig threatened to step in before ultimately allowing the teams to settle the matter -- with some input from the commissioner's office.

"I think it took this long because it was a unique circumstance," said Cherington. "We talk to teams all the time about trades and it's players-for-players and it's pretty easy to assign value and figure out what's fair and not fair. In this case, it was just tougher because it involves not just an executive but a friend.

"But we're glad it's done. I think both sides handled it professionally and now that it's the start of spring training, can move forward."

The Sox had originally asked for high-end, established major-leaguers such as pitcher Matt Garza or shortstop Starlin Castro. The Cubs rejected both out of hand and the talks dragged on.

At one point, both teams submitted briefs, each arguing their respective cases. The Sox had hoped that Selig would award them a player of significance to serve as a disincentive for executives with existing contracts to jump teams, but the Cubs argued that Epstein had only one year remaining on his deal and was likely poised to leave the Red Sox when the contract expired.

A baseball industry source recently labeled the Red Sox as "highly frustrated" that Selig wouldn't step in and rule in their favor.

Incredibly, the Cubs and Red Sox are not done doing business. As part of the deal, each team will exchanges players to be named later.

"You want to continue to keep asking questions for a couple more weeks, right?" joked Cherington. "I'd expect that we'll get that resolved by the end of spring training."

Cherington explained that MLB now dictates that a player can't go from one team to another, regardless of circumstance, without something -- in the form of money or player -- to the other team. He pointed to the recent compensation deal between the Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins last fall.

In that swap, after manager Ozzie Guillen left the White Sox to go to Miami, the White Sox got two prospects from the Marlins, but the White Sox included another prospect to make the deal equitable.