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Cubs officially hire Theo Epstein, but compensation up in air

A statement released Friday night said Theo Epstehad resigned from Red Sox become Cubs’ president baseball operations.  |

A statement released Friday night said Theo Epstein had resigned from the Red Sox to become the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. | GETTY IMAGES

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Updated: November 23, 2011 8:14AM

A process one major-league source called ‘‘comical’’ Thursday
finally took on some formal — if not final — shape with the announcement Friday night that Theo Epstein had resigned from the Boston Red Sox to become the Cubs’ president of baseball operations.

But the player-compensation
negotiations that have held up an announcement for more than a week since the Cubs and Epstein agreed to a five-year, $18.5 million deal remain unresolved.

According to a joint statement released by the teams, the Cubs and Red Sox ‘‘have reached an agreement regarding a process by which appropriate compensation will be determined for the Red Sox, and that issue will be resolved in the near term.’’

Whatever ‘‘near term’’ means, the announcement came about 24 hours after commissioner Bud Selig had threatened to intervene in a process that had become embarrassing for Major League Baseball.

‘‘No question it is a possibility,’’ Selig said during an interview Thursday with SiriusXM Radio.

Both teams are planning to hold news conferences Tuesday — the next scheduled day off for the World Series — and, according to the release, will have no public comment until then. MLB generally prohibits major announcements of team news during the World Series.

The announcement allows the Cubs and Red Sox to begin their offseason work in earnest, although the Red Sox already had promoted former assistant general manager Ben Cherington into Epstein’s old GM job and continued their managerial search.

The Cubs already are down the road with the San Diego Padres on hiring away GM Jed Hoyer to reunite with Epstein, a friend and former colleague with the Red Sox, as their GM. Hoyer, too, would get a five-year contract. The Cubs also will bring Padres assistant GM Jason McLeod to Chicago, sources said.

Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod were together in the Red Sox’ front office for a seven-year stretch that included the 2004 and 2007 World Series championships, with McLeod overseeing drafts that produced most valuable player Dustin Pedroia and All-Stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz.

Despite rumors and speculation involving other Padres personnel, including manager Bud Black, the North County Times in suburban San Diego reported via Twitter on Friday night that the Cubs have agreed to pursue nobody beyond the two executives from the team.

Although the joint Cubs-Red Sox release mentioned no other Red Sox personnel coming to Chicago, sources said that remains a possibility and would affect the final compensation package. Epstein is said to want head trainer Mike Reinold, a shoulder-
injury expert and former assistant to famed surgeon James Andrews, and vice president of baseball operations Brian O’Halloran.

The Cubs’ top executives mucked up what figured to be an already-challenging process by agreeing to terms with Epstein
before bothering to start compensation talks with the Red Sox. That put the Cubs in the untenable
negotiating position of telegraphing their unwillingness to walk away from the bargaining table.

Red Sox management, which
already had engaged in more than a week of hardball negotiating that included unreasonable early
demands (Matt Garza, Starlin Castro, etc.), appeared to stiffen its
resolve Friday after a leak from the Cubs suggested a compensation deal might get done Thursday.

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