Compensation for Theo Epstein

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that the compensation talks between the Red Sox and Cubs were set to begin soon. Apparently Ben Cherington has already been told he will be the new GM so Theo is gone from the Sox one way or another as I expected. There’s no take back here.

While it’s been suggested here that the Red Sox be tough in holding out for a top player, the chances of extracting shortstop Starlin Castro or righty Matt Garza appear slim. The Cubs don’t exactly have a plethora of big prospects either, but they do have a few who might be of interest.

Their top prospect is Brett Jackson, a speedy lefthanded hitting center fielder who was a 20-20 guy in their system this year and not far from the big leagues. Matt Szczur, an A-ball outfielder and righthanded hitter, is also highly regarded. Third baseman Josh Vitters, a former top pick, hasn’t panned out, but is now playing some outfield in the Arizona Fall League. The Cubs’ top pitching prospect is righty Trey McNutt. Other pitchers they might part with are Jon Jackson or Alberto Cabrera.

Fire Brand of the American League talked a bit about possible players the Sox could get for Epstein. They mention Sean Marshall, Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt and Andrew Cashner as possibilities. I know we’ve heard that the Sox may want cash, but that would seem to be a relatively simple transaction that wouldn’t require a long discussion. As such, I think there’s more to it than that and they do want a player or two in return. I’ve said before that I think Brett Jackson or Trey McNutt are the most likely players moving to Boston and I remain convinced they are.

There is no chance Starlin Castro is changing uniforms. Based on other reports, by the Boston media of course, there does not appear to be much chance the Red Sox acquire a player at the MLB level. That eliminates Sean Marshall.

I left Andrew Cashner out of the “MLB level” there because he still has very little MLB experience. I believe the Cubs would not like to trade him, but I also believe they would not take him off the table. I think he’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he was wearing a Red Sox uniform next year. That would be more than fine with me. Cashner began the season in the rotation last year, but after his first start he was put on the DL and missed most of the season. He was less than impressive in his debut season in 2010. While his numbers in the minor leagues in 2010 were impressive, it was only 9 starts and then he was moved to the bullpen and then to the big leagues.

His numbers weren’t bad before that, but they weren’t all that impressive either. He’s done little at the big league level to this point and is coming off of injury. If the cost to get Theo Epstein is Andrew Cashner, I’d be fine with that. I’d rather give them Cashner than McNutt.

I’ve already said why I think Brett Jackson fits so I won’t bore you with that again, but that’s who I expect to be heading to Boston.

Other candidates could be Matt Szczur, Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Junior Lake, Josh Vitters and almost anyone else. Szczur was one of only two Cubs players ranked in a full seaosn league top 20 prospect list by Baseball America (Brett Jackson being the other). The Cubs did have several others in short-season leagues, but only the A’s had fewer top 20 league prospects than the Cubs.

Castillo was once a highly regarded prospect, but he took a hit before rebounding last year. He’s MLB ready and could probably be a decent starter or a good back-up. The same is true for Steve Clevenger. Junior Lake is a young SS with some potential. He hit well in High A before his promotion and then not so well after. He’s at least a year away from the big leagues.

Josh Vitters was the overall 3rd pick in the 2007 Draft. Baseball America had him ranked 43rd prior to 2008. He fell to 51st the next year and then into the 70s and was not ranked in the top 100 last year. He has some pop in his bat, probably can’t play 3rd base at the big league level and has played some 1st and is currently playing the outfield in the AFL.

Vitters turned only 22 at the end of August and is longtime sufferer of Getting On Base Disorder. If we could cure his disorder, you got yourself an all-star hitter. But he has unfortunately been diagnosed with the intractable GOBD. Truly a sad, sad story about a young man — a kid — fighting for his life, playing a sport he loves despite the crippling nature of the disorder. It’s so America.

I’d like to see the Cubs find a way to keep Brett Jackson. He could be instrumental in any quick turnaround for the Cubs. Trey McNutt was off to a great professional start, but has hit a road block in AA. There’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic though our expectations have surely lowered. I’d also like the Cubs to keep Szczur and Castillo. Szczur has been surprisingly good hitting .303/.350/.431 over a year and half in professional baseball. He was only 21 in 2011 and he actually showed some power last year by hitting 10 home runs. Castillo would either make a decent starter for this team or a very good backup to Geovany Soto. As for the others, I don’t much care.


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