It's Theo Epstein Compensation Time! (Probably. Maybe.)

Theo Epstein, the new President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, walks across the outfield following a press conference at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

So says Phil Rogers in the Tribune (and please consider the source):

Next week looks like a big one for the commissioner's office. Look for both the Ryan Braun and Theo Epstein rulings to come down, although only the Epstein compensation matter is under Bud Selig's control. Braun's appeal of a steroid suspension is in the hands of an arbitrator.

Setting aside the Braun issue for a moment, what could the compensation be? We have discussed this here many times. But I wanted to add to this post some thoughts from Boston. After the jump, an article from a Red Sox writer's point of view.

Let me say that much of the time, I think Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe does a pretty good job covering his team and baseball. In this column posted today, Cafardo says it's still uncertain when the compensation issue will be decided; given what's happened in this situation so far, it's certainly possible that Cafardo is right and Rogers is wrong.

But then he starts naming names. He mentions the Red Sox' early reported demand for Matt Garza or Starlin Castro and says "of course, they were rebuffed."

But check this out, when Cafardo starts talking about what would be "fair":

“Significant" would be someone such as Travis Wood, who was just acquired by the Cubs in the Sean Marshall deal with the Reds. He is a 25-year-old lefthander the Sox could use as a fifth starter. But would the Commissioner’s Office take a player Epstein and Jed Hoyer just traded for and hand him over to the Sox?

Nope. Don't see Selig doing that. Cafardo then mentions Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson -- I suppose I could see that; the Cubs would likely be more willing to let Baker go. On the other hand, it never seemed as if this would result in a major league player heading east.

Cafardo goes on to mention a laundry list of players:

Then there is a prospect such as first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was traded from Boston to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal and then dealt to the Cubs this offseason after a poor major league debut with the Padres. While there isn’t a need in Boston for Rizzo now, maybe you get him for the future.

The Cubs also have third baseman Josh Vitters, a high draft choice with unfulfilled promise, shortstop Junior Lake, and outfielder Matthew Szczur. They have righty Chris Carpenter, who looks like he’ll make the Cubs bullpen, and lefty James Russell. There’s veteran righty Jeff Samardzija, whose arm has always intrigued teams out of the pen.

Other top prospects include outfielders Brett Jackson and Reggie Golden, shortstop Javier Baez, righties Trey McNutt, Zach Cates, and Dillon Maples, and catcher Wellington Castro.

Rizzo? Um, no. There's no way the commissioner's office would do that. I can't see any of the higher-level prospects like Szczur or Jackson or recent draft picks like Baez or Maples being chosen. Looks like Cafardo just went down recent draft lists and wrote down some names he had heard of, or people who got big bonuses.

Oh, and it's "Welington Castillo", not "Wellington Castro."

As I have written before, there is one precedent for something like this, and it also involved the Cubs. When Andy MacPhail came from Minnesota (as GM) to the Cubs (as team president), the Cubs sent pitching prospect Hector Trinidad to the Twins. At the time, Trinidad was 20 years old and had just finished a decent, but not outstanding, season for Daytona. He was considered to be a major league possibility, though not a top prospect.

He never made the major leagues.

Who would be comparable pitchers from last year's Daytona roster?

Aaron Kurcz might be the guy -- made 32 appearances (12 starts) for Daytona last year and posted a 3.28 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He's 21. Nick Struck is 22, and had 16 good starts (combined 2.96 ERA and 1.40 WHIP) for Daytona and Tennessee before being promoted (probably before he was ready) to Iowa, where he posted a 5.20 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts). Maybe even Dae-Eun Rhee, who is 22 and had a 4.02 ERA and 1.36 WHIP for Daytona and who has been given a NRI to Cubs spring training this year.

One of those guys should do it -- maybe two of them, if you think Theo is worth more than MacPhail. To me, that's reasonable compensation, using the MacPhail case as a precedent. A youngish righthander who performed well at the lower levels of the organization and could make the Red Sox in a couple of years if everything goes right.

A major league player? Sorry, Nick Cafardo. Sorry, Boston. That's a pipedream.

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