With baseball Commissioner Bud Selig on hand at the White Sox convention to present Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf with the 2011 Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence, the questions naturally turned to the issue of compensation for Cubs President Theo Epstein.
Selig, who was a bit perturbed that, after 3 months of extensions and negotiations, this issue still ended up in his lap, said that he hopes to resolve the issue quickly.
The question on everyone's mind is just what will the Cubs have to give up for Epstein. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe believes that the compensation will be significant, as Selig wants to deter executives from leaving organizations before their terms are up.
But, what exactly is significant?
The Red Sox reportedly were after pitcher Matt Garza or top prospect Brett Jackson. By comparison, the Marlins gave up Jhan Marinez and Osvaldo Martinez for manager Ozzie Guillen. Marinez ranked 4th and Martinez 5th on Baseball America's Marlins top 10 prospect list prior to the 2011 season and currently rank 7th and 10th on the White Sox top 10 prospect list.
If Selig were to use that as precedent, the Cubs could potentially lose someone like Matt Szczur, Trey McNutt and/or Dillon Maples to the Red Sox, a pretty steep price any way you cut it. If Selig really wanted to send a message, then he could agree with the Red Sox and award Matt Garza or Brett Jackson to the Sox.
I had hoped that the cost of hiring Epstein would be a lot less, something along the lines of Junior Lake or even a lower tier prospect. However, its looking more and more like the Cubs will lose a significant piece, which will be hard to swallow.
If Epstein can eventually bring a World Series championship to the Cubs, we will all forget about this or consider it a fair price. But if Epstein fails in his primary task, then this will become just another Cubs' blunder in a history filled with them.