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Commissioner likely to determine Red Sox-Cubs compensation agreement

10.25.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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CHICAGO — The press conferences are now done, with the Red Sox having introduced Ben Cherington as their new general manager and Theo Epstein now the official president of baseball operations for the Cubs.

Yet the matter of the compensation that the Cubs will send to the Sox, who accepted Epstein’s resignation to allow both sides to move forward, is another matter. Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig recently noted that if the two sides could not reach an agreement by themselves, he would have to come in and decide the outcome. While Epstein — who initially was on the outside of negotiations between the two clubs while his status was in limbo, but who was eventually brought into talks on the periphery to try to find creative solutions to a negotiating stalemate — can now negotiate directly with Cherington, the divide between the two clubs, according to a source familiar with the talks, is sufficiently entrenched that the Commissioner’s involvement seems a fairly likely outcome.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes to the commissioner,” said the source.

That is a reflection of the fact that the disagreement between the two sides runs up and down the organizational ladder, from the front office to the ownership level. With the two sides expected to be given what one source characterized as “a couple weeks” to resolve the matter, given the inability to make progress in negotiations to this point, a stalement appears a likely outcome of club-to-club talks. Even so, assuming that an impasse remains in place, the two teams have a sense of the range of compensation possibilities, and they were comfortable enough with them that they were ready to press ahead and announce the new hirings.

It would appear that the prospects are the key element to the negotiation at this point. The source said that it might be possible to reach an understanding in which Epstein could hire one Red Sox employee to join him in Chicago.

Epstein, meanwhile, made clear that there would not be a massive effort to poach talent from his former club.

“I can’t get into the exact stipulations [of the understanding between the clubs],” Epstein said. “[But] it’s been important to me that the Red Sox baseball operations has continuity, and it’s important to me that Ben succeeds and that the Red Sox succeed. While there may be a fit at some point for somebody who may be blocked over with the Red Sox to come to the Cubs, there’s not going to be any kind of raid.”

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