McAdam: Sox and Cubs complete the deal at last

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McAdam: Sox and Cubs complete the deal at last

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.

Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

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Hightower, Branch will begin training camp on PUP list

The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week. 

Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.

Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons. 

Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.

Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England. 

Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

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Report: Patriots in talks with CB Brandon Flowers

In what’s been a somewhat busy offseason for their secondary, veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is in talks with the Patriots, according to Adam Schefter. 

Flowers, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs and last three with the Chargers, was released in March. He is set to meet with the Cardinals this week as well. 

The Pats lost cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason, but landed the top free agent corner on the market in Stephon Gilmore. A potential addition of Flowers might give them an insurance policy if second-year pro Cyrus Jones fails to improve from a dismal rookie season. 

Flowers was limited to just six games last season, as a concussion ended his season in December. He has played in at least 11 games in the rest of his NFL seasons. His lone Pro Bowl nod came in the 2013 season.