The Chicago Cubs promised the Red Sox compensation in return for allowing general manager Theo Epstein to break his contract and become their president of baseball operations. Three months later, they finally may pay that debt.
The teams have asked commissioner Bud Selig to intercede in the stalled negotiations and determine what price the Cubs will pay for Epstein. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney confirmed that Selig was involved but offered no details as to his timetable.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he could not comment on the matter. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino sought Selig’s involvement. Lucchino has said for months that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts agreed to part with “significant’’ compensation for Epstein, who had a year remaining on his contract.
The Red Sox allowed Epstein to resign Oct. 21 and join the Cubs without that compensation being decided. Once Epstein was freed from Fenway Park, the Red Sox lost their leverage and the talks broke down. Selig then gave the teams a Nov. 1 deadline to settle the matter before he stepped in. That deadline came and went without the commissioner stepping in.
Epstein, in the unusual position of determining his own worth, met with Cherington at the GM meetings in Milwaukee in November and again at the Winter Meetings in Dallas in December, with no progress made.
Last week, during an appearance on WEEI, Epstein said there was no precedent for “major compensation’’ for an executive.
“I think normally Ben and I could work it out, but there’s just a little bit of a different perspective,’’ said Epstein. “The expectations were different at the time.
“We’re trying to figure something out that makes the Red Sox happy but also fits with a century of baseball precedent. I can honestly say this one has been turned over and discussed in the media a lot more than it has between the clubs.
“Ben and I have had five conversations on it in the last few months. We’ve gotten close but we haven’t gotten it done. Maybe we’ll need some help to get it done. I want both sides to be happy if possible.’’
The Cubs gave Minnesota a Triple A pitching prospect (Hector Trinidad, who never made the majors) in return for hiring GM Andy MacPhail in 1994. But in September, the Marlins sent the White Sox two well-regarded prospects in return for manager Ozzie Guillen.
Epstein was in Boston over the weekend for his annual “Hot Stove Cool Music’’ benefit concert. Cherington joined him on stage at the Paradise Rock Club at one point.
Epstein has another event for his charitable foundation, a round-table discussion, scheduled for Jan. 30 at Fenway Park. Cherington and Sox manager Bobby Valentine are among the scheduled participants.
Clock is ticking
The Red Sox have roughly two weeks before the onset of arbitration hearings for unsigned players. Righthanders Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, and Daniel Bard remain unsigned, along with DH David Ortiz. The players, at worst, will receive one-year deals at a salary determined by a neutral panel. The sides can negotiate right up until the start of a hearing. The Red Sox are reasonably close with Aceves, Bailey, and Bard. But Ortiz is seeking $16.5 million through arbitration with the team offering $12.65 million . . . The 73d Boston Baseball Writers Dinner is tonight at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. Award recipients include Jacoby Ellsbury, Aceves, Dustin Pedroia, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Ryan Lavarnway . . . Orlando Cabrera, who helped the Sox to the 2004 World Series title, told a radio station in his native Colombia he was retiring. Cabrera, 37, played for nine teams over 15 seasons.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.