Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer talks to president Theo Epstein during spring training at Fitch Park. Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
When Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were hired by the Cubs as President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, respectively, it was agreed by the Cubs that they'd be giving compensation to the Red Sox and Padres for signing both of them while they were still under contract to their previous clubs.
These negotiations got very complicated, but finally, in February, right after spring training began, reliever Chris Carpenter was sent to the Red Sox in exchange for Epstein. There was also an agreement that the teams would exchange PTBNLs later, with a further report that the Red Sox would get a "slightly better player" in the exchange. Meanwhile, the compensation for Hoyer was reportedly to be a low-level minor leaguer, sometime before Opening Day, though that has not yet happened.
There was, of course, a catch. Not long after Carpenter left Arizona for Florida, Red Sox owner John Henry said there had been a "basic misunderstanding" with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts about this issue. Even the transfer of Aaron Kurcz to the Red Sox on March 15, with the subsequent swap of Jair Bogaerts to the Cubs last Thursday, apparently didn't clear up this misunderstanding. Things got worse after it was announced last Wednesday that Carpenter would be having elbow surgery for a bone spur; the Red Sox said they were "weighing options" late last week.
Today, it was announced by the Cubs that the "misunderstanding" and "option weighing" has resulted in the return of Theo Epstein to the Red Sox, and his right-hand man Hoyer along with him.
The Cubs have wasted no time hiring a replacement; in fact, it seems this has been in the works for some time.When spring training began, former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa announced he'd be heading to Detroit Tigers spring training. It appeared to be some kind of stealth mission:
When La Russa arrives today for a stay of about two weeks in Tigers camp, his primary mission will be to learn about front-office work from Dombrowski.
"Tony and I go back a long time as very, very good friends," Dombrowski said Monday. "He's at a different stage of his career and trying to get a feel for what a front office is like and is it something he'd want to do. So we're going to spend some time talking about what is involved and the general responsibilities of a general manager and people in the front office.
"We'll take it where he wants it to go as far as what his interests are. I think he's trying to get a feel of what he wants to do. Tony won't be in uniform, but he and Jim (Leyland) are best of friends, and so they'll be talking all the time. You can only benefit as an organization having someone like that around, and we'll share information with him."
Today, we learned the reason for La Russa and Dombrowski's meetings. The Cubs also announced this morning that La Russa will be leaving the MLB post he took just last Friday to take over immediately as the team's general manager. Further, there won't be anyone to fill the President of Baseball Operations position, because as Tom Ricketts said last June:
"I've never bought into the (idea) that I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys."
And if this story has boiled your blood or got you worried about the Cubs' future, just remember what today is.