MESA, Ariz. Theo Epstein joked that it was some sort of existential question: What am I really worth?
The answer finally came on Tuesday (sort of), with the Cubs sending pitcher Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later to the Boston Red Sox. Some four months later, these two iconic franchises resolved the compensation issue without Bud Selig having to make the final decision.
The commissioners office applied pressure, and received briefs from both sides, but ultimately didnt have to rule on the value of Epstein escaping the final year of his contract to become the Cubs president of baseball operations.
After laying out roughly 20 million for the rock star executive, the Cubs will also get a player to be named later to complete the transaction (per Major League Baseball procedure). The unidentified players have already been agreed upon and should be revealed by April 15.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said cash was not included in the deal. The 26-year-old Carpenter would have competed for one of the final spots in the bullpen.
We all realized we were going to lose something of significant value when Theo came over here, Hoyer said. This doesnt 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. (We) all felt like that was fair.
This should clear the path for finalizing compensation with the San Diego Padres. Sometime during spring training, the Cubs are expected to give up one prospect not on the 40-man roster for Hoyer and scouting executive Jason McLeod.
Epstein, who was not available for comment, released a statement that said hes relieved the process is over.
More than anything, I'm excited that we can all move forward and focus exclusively on getting ready for the season, Epstein said. I wish Chris and the Red Sox nothing but the best in 2012 and beyond.
It got to this point, sources said, because the Cubs worked backwards. Chairman Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney secured the deal with Epstein before settling on compensation with the Red Sox.
Late last season, the White Sox and Florida Marlins agreed on a framework of two prospects before Ozzie Guillen could negotiate a new contract. The Cubs would have to deal with Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, whos known as a brilliant and ruthless negotiator.
But there really werent many other reference points outside of the Class-A pitcher named Hector Trinidad the Cubs once gave the Minnesota Twins for Andy MacPhail, another executive who built two World Series winners.
So the Red Sox felt like they could start out sky high last October, asking for something like Matt Garza or Starlin Castro before looking at top-level prospects. Brett Jackson joked that he hoped it wasnt Josh Vitters because Jackson is crashing at Vitters place this spring.
Its part of being a professional athlete, Jackson said. You can be traded at any time. I try to not let it get too much in my head. I have friends that are Red Sox fans and they, of course, were chirping in my ear a little bit. But Theos an incredible general manager and they deserve someone great for him.
Id love to be a Cub forever. I love the city of Chicago and I love the atmosphere around here right now with all the changes.
The Cubs and Red Sox spent most of the offseason rearranging their front offices, finding new managers and reshaping their rosters. Epstein, Kenney and general counsel Mike Lufrano wrote the brief filed to Seligs office.
Ben Cherington, Epsteins replacement in Boston, joked that the compensation issue was like cleaning out the garage, because you just want to keep putting it off. Cheringtons assistant general managers, Mike Hazen and Brian O'Halloran, also worked on the lists of prospects.
Not to say this wasnt a priority, (but) the two teams were more focused on the on-field things, Hoyer said. It probably took a little bit of time because of the lack of precedent, but it certainly wasnt because of any kind of animosity. We were actually looking at the people on the e-mails involved last night and were all really good friends.
Epstein insisted that he wasnt worth that much, because hell never throw a single pitch or take one at-bat in a Cubs uniform. Red Sox Nation invades Wrigley Field on June 15-17 for what should be a memorable weekend. Wouldnt it be something to see Carpenter running in from the bullpen?
It finally came to closure, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. Unfortunately, we lost a great arm in Chris. Fortunately for him, (this is) a team that wanted him really, really bad. (He) leaves one great place and gets to go to another one.