By JON KRAWCZYNSKI, AP Baseball Writer
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) _ Theo Epstein’s value to the Boston Red Sox was easy to gauge. A quick glance at the two World Series trophies at Fenway Park settles that.
Determining his value to the Chicago Cubs, another title-starved franchise desperately hoping to be saved by the Boy Wonder, turned out to be a much more complicated and difficult question to answer.
Turns out the architect of a two-time champion who revived a franchise that had long been known for choking in the biggest moments was worth a 26-year-old, hard-throwing reliever and a player to be named later.
The two teams finally announced a deal Tuesday that settles a four-month dispute over what Boston should get as compensation when Epstein left for Chicago. The Cubs sent right-handed reliever Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later to the Red Sox for a player to be named.
“I think it took this long because it was a unique circumstance,” said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, who served under
Epstein before succeeding him. “We talk to teams all the time about trades and it’s player for player and it’s pretty easy to, easier to, assign value and figure out what’s fair, what’s not fair. In this case it was just tougher because it involved not just an executive but a friend.”
After the Red Sox blew a nine-game lead in the AL East by 7-20 in the final month of last season, Epstein started to look for a new challenge. He became Chicago’s president of baseball operations and got a five-year, $18.5 million deal in October. The teams were not able to agree on compensation and wound up submitting arguments to Commissioner Bud Selig.
All the while, Cherington and Epstein continued to negotiate, which had to be awkward conversation. Would Cherington throw out a name, only to have Epstein say, `No, I’m not worth that much’?
“It was just difficult because these things don’t normally happen,” Cherington said with a chuckle. “It’s hard to figure out what was appropriate. In the end both teams compromised and we feel really good about the guy we’re getting and we’re happy it was resolved and we were able to resolve it between the teams without the commissioner getting involved.”
Epstein said it was nice to finally have the matter resolved.
“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,” he said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
Selig said he was glad he didn’t have to get involved.
“I am pleased that the Cubs and the Red Sox have resolved this matter,” Selig said in a statement. “It has always been my preference that Clubs resolve matters like this amongst themselves, as they understand their unique circumstances better than anyone else could. Though the matter required time, both Clubs demonstrated professionalism throughout their discussions, and I appreciate their persistence in finding common ground.”
Carpenter was a third-round draft pick by the Cubs in 2008. He made 42 relief appearances between Double-A Tennessee, Triple-A Iowa and the Cubs. He spent four years in the minors before seeing his first major league action last season, when he posted no record and a 2.79 ERA in 10 appearances.
The Red Sox bullpen is in a state of flux and it’s one of Bobby Valentine’s chief concerns this spring. Andrew Bailey was acquired from Oakland in December, and the overriding thought is that he will replace Jonathan Papelbon. But Valentine has been noncommittal with all roles so far. He’s more concerned with adding to the depth, working all of the pitchers out and seeing what he has in a few weeks.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said both teams were happy the dispute was “behind us.”
“Now we can just move forward with the spring without worrying about the compensation,” he said in Mesa, Ariz., at Chicago’s spring training complex. “Chris is a very good reliever. He’s a difficult guy to lose. I think we all realized we were going to lose something of significant value when Theo came over here, and this doesn’t change that.
“I hope Chris has a lot of success over there. Obviously the Cubs are really excited about the new management team with Theo leading it, so there was a price to be paid for that.”
As for the players to be named later, Hoyer called it a “procedural” thing to meet MLB transaction rules.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)