The basics as I understand them are thus. The Cubs want Theo to be their new team president. Theo wants to be their new team president. Unfortunately, Theo has a contract to be the Red Sox general manager for another year. So, he needs to get out of that contract. The Red Sox aren’t ready to simply tear up the contract. They, naturally, need some sort of compensation in order to do that. I get it. It’s the same thing that happened when the Sox tried to get ARod. The Sox wanted him to tear up his old contract. The players union wouldn’t let him do that without being compensated. Which is why when the Yankees finally traded for him, they needed to put a link on their website to his website. Apparently, the Sox are looking for more than web hits. That’s where it gets a little weird to me.
The Sox apparently made a couple requests of the Cubs. They asked for Sterlin Castro, the Cubs franchise shortstop of the future. The Cubs declined. The Sox asked for Matt Garza. The Cubs declined. The Sox asked to include John Lackey in the deal. The Cubs stopped laughing, and declined. At this point, I understood negotiations. The Sox were aiming high, the Cubs low. It came down to who had the most leverage, and who had the most to lose. The way I saw it, the Cubs needed to make a deal because they were already promoting Theo as the savior of the franchise. If they then let him go, what does that say to the fans? The Sox needed to make a deal because if they didn’t, they would have a GM under a one-year contract who didn’t want to be there. But, then Theo resigned from the Red Sox. So, didn’t that remove all the Cubs leverage? Now, no matter what, the Sox don’t have to deal with Theo coming back all angry. Now, what’s to stop the Red Sox from saying, “We want Garza AND Castro. Otherwise, Theo can sit around for a year watching the MLB network.” The only thing the Sox would lose is whatever low-level prospect the Cubs were offering. Why don’t the Sox now take the hard line?
It’s also a little odd that apparently the Cubs are having Theo negotiate for himself. Technically, he must be acting as an outside party, negotiating on their behalf, or something. But, how do you negotiate for yourself? Does Theo offer the Red Sox lousy prospects? If he does that, isn’t he saying that he’s not a very valuable member of the Red Sox front office? Does Lucchino ask for Castro because Theo was such an integral member of the club only to have Theo counter with an A-baller, saying he didn’t do much for the Sox anyway? Is this like reverse arbitration? The Red Sox arguing that he was valuable, while Theo argues that he’s worthless? What does that tell the Cubs? Their new club president is admitting he’s not very valuable to a team? Huh?
And, now, Bud Selig says he’ll step in if a deal can’t be reached in a week. Why? He doesn’t usually step in on trades. If the Red Sox want Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners won’t take garbage in exchange for him, will Selig step in to get the job done? Is his decision binding? Can the Sox (or Cubs) look at the compensation Selig offers, and laugh? Or is Selig going to say it’s in the best interests of baseball for an executive from one team to go to another team for minimal compensation?
It’s interesting because I don’t see Lucchino as a guy to give up on a negotiation. Nor do I see him settling for less to keep good working relations or honor a gentleman’s agreement. Remember, this is the team that claimed Kevin Millar of waivers when it was “general practice” to let players like that clear waivers to go to Japan. Theo was part of that too. So, he should have a similar opinion. Why would the Sox back down? They seem to have all the cards in their hands.