Theo Epstein Negotiations 'Civil', But Do Cubs Or Red Sox Have Leverage?

Negotiations between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs over compensation for the Cubs’ signing Theo Epstein to be their general manager are now “civil and business-like”, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe:

An executive familiar with the negotiations described them as “business-like, civil and moving forward over the weekend.’’ There were no indications that the talks would break down.

Sean McAdam of CSN New England wonders which team has more leverage in these discussions. He says the Cubs can afford to wait because:

If the Cubs dig in their heels and refuse to meet the Red Sox’ demands on player compensation, Epstein isn’t about to return as GM of the Sox. Such a scenario would mean the Red Sox would be paying (a presumably unhappy) Epstein some $7.5 million dollars to either serve as a lame-duck GM, or, perhaps, not work at all and take the year off, while collecting the single biggest payday a baseball general manager has ever earned.

But he then says the Red Sox can afford to wait because:

Now that the clubs are at a standstill on the matter of compensation, what’s Ricketts going to do: tell his long-suffering fan base that Epstein isn’t coming after all because the team refused to part with a minor leaguer or two? Hardly.

Precedent is on the Red Sox’ side, too. Just last month, Ozzie Guillen left the Chicago White Sox (also with a year remaining on his deal) to become manager of the Florida Marlins.

In exchange, the Marlins surrendered — without much of a fight — two of their Top 10 prospects.

There is one thing that puts a bit of time pressure on both teams — the general rule that Bud Selig doesn’t want major announcements (and this would surely count as one) during the World Series. For the Cubs, they’d certainly like Epstein to hit the ground running. For the Red Sox, they surely don’t want this to drag out for 10 more days while the bad press they’ve been getting continues.

They’d probably both like to get this done by Tuesday.

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