No Winners In Epstein Compensation Deal

As posted earlier today, the Cubs have sent RHP Chris Carpenter to the Boston Red Sox to complete the compensation to hire former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Discussions between the teams had been on and off since Epstein was hired in October, and reports say that one of the major hold ups has been a power struggle continuing between Theo and Red Sox President Larry Lucchino.

Photo: Johnathan Daniel, Getty Images

Chris Carpenter had been ranked the number five prospect by MLB.com in a farm system that is not exactly stocked.  He made his major league debut on June 14 (shown left) and had ten appearances with the major league club last season, all in relief, while not recording a decision in any of the games he pitched.  His three earned runs allowed in 9.2 innings was good for a 2.79 ERA.  Overall, the 26 year old third round pick in the 2008 amateur draft made 42 appearances last season, his fourth professional season, between AA  Tennessee, AAA Iowa, and the major league ball club. Carpenter features a power slider and a 100 mile per hour fastball that now travel to Florida to meet his Boston teammates, as he tries to make their roster.

Today, Theo Epstein released the following:

“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.  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.”

There are some interesting things to take away from this resolution.  The first is that Bud Selig didn’t have to resolve it, even though the teams asked for intervention last month.  The more important take away is that both sides actually lost in this case.  The Red Sox had insisted that compensation should be significant, going as far as asking for RHP Matt Garza at the outset of negotiations.  The Cubs countered that there is nearly no precedent for significant compensation when an executive leaves for another city, citing the single A prospect that never reached the majors the Cubs sent to the Twins when they hired Andy MacPhail.  In the end, the Red Sox did not get their idea of significant compensation.  Although, I would bet many Cubs’ fans would have been fine with a certain high-priced outfielder heading east.  The Cubs lost a major league ready prospect that figured to contribute to the major league bullpen this season, and one of the few power arms in the organization.

In any event, the deal is done.  Time will tell who got the better of the deal.  If the Cubs end up winning it all in a few years, regardless of what the other Chris Carpenter does, it will be viewed as a great move.  If Carpenter turns into a good pitcher in Boston, and the Cubs keep waiting for that elusive World Championship, it may not be seen as fondly.

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