Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some thoughts on the Theo compensation

We should expect Bud Selig (or Bid Selif if you are theChicago Tribune) to rule on the compensation package that the Cubs will have to surrender for ‘stealing’ Theo Epstein from the Red Sox.

Currently the thought is that the Cubs will have to give up a top prospect with Trey McNutt or Josh Vitters as possible targets.

The truth is I’m not sure if anyone really does know how Selig will rule on this.  In fact, there are a number of facts that on both sides of this issue that could be used to support a substantial compensation and to support very little compensation.

Why the Cubs will pay substantial compensation:
  1. Recently, precedent with the Ozzie Guillen compensation between the White Sox and Marlins was relatively substantial…two higher prospects.
  2. Bud Selig will likely want to try to make a statement that top executives under contract can’t just hope from one organization to another.
  3. Theo Epstein’s overall stature in the baseball community.  He’s regarded as one of the top baseball executives.
  4.  Red Sox owner John Henry and Bud Selig are good buddies and Selig has done a number of favors for Henry topped off by letting him sell the Marlins to another owner (orphaning the Expos) and letting him purchase the Red Sox even as other bidders offered more money.

Why the Cubs will not pay substantial compensation:
  1. In 1994 the Cubs only had to give up 2 low level prospects to take Andy McPhail away from the Twins.  MacPhail was the Twins GM and he was promoted to team President when he joined the Cubs…similar to the situation with Theo. 
  2. Theo was promoted in the process of going to the Cubs.  For the most part, teams in baseball (and most other sports) will not require significant compensation when a guy leaves to take a job with a higher title.
  3. Theo was going to leave after the 2012 season and might have even resigned his position before the 2012 season since much of the rest of the Red Sox organization was in a time of transition.
  4. There isn’t a large problem with team executives bolting from one organization to another.  There is no reason to do anything drastic here to try to prevent a problem from growing. 
  5.  It’s not good business practice for baseball to try to prevent an executive from taking a job with more responsibility or getting a promotion. 
  6. While Guillen did get the White Sox a good haul, the job with the Marlins wasn’t a promotion for Guillen.  He has the same job now as he did with the White Sox. 

My gut feeling on the matter is that the Cubs will likely give up Trey McNutt in the deal.  The Red Sox have made it known they want pitching and initially wanted Matt Garza as compensation.  McNutt is the best pitching prospect in the Cubs system right now and I expect Selig will favor the Red Sox a bit more in this deal just because of his previous dealings with John Henry. 

Expect a ruling on this before the end of the week.