The rumors about Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein leaving the organization to join the Chicago Cubs were swirling as far back as June. Theo and the ownership group were at times evasive on the matter but generally denied it. Sometimes, however, there really is no smoke without fire.
After the Red Sox completed their September implosion, Epstein left and took over as president of baseball operations in the Windy City. Signing Epstein when he was still under contract meant Chicago owed Boston compensation.
At first, there was a lot of media attention and debate about whom the Sox should receive in exchange for their GM. The team took it seriously, too, reportedly seeking as grand a prize as the young and very promising Starlin Castro.
Weeks went by with no apparent progress, and it appeared clear the sides weren't close in their negotiations. As the weeks turned into months, we knew Boston wouldn't get anyone like Castro in the deal. Indeed, it seemed new GM Ben Cherington would have to be happy to receive anyone above Double-A.
Finally, on February 21, the compensation was worked out. It took them four months, but the sides have now reportedly agreed on RHP Chris Carpenter and a player to be named being sent to Boston for a player to be named.
The Red Sox can count this as a big victory, providing the player to be named later turns out to be someone they're particularly big on.
Firstly, these negotiations were so protracted and messy, both sides are lucky they didn't end up having Commissioner Bud Selig make the decision for them.
Secondly, it was looking like the Sox would get a player no one had heard of. Someone who was buried so deep in the minors that he would never see major league action. Not only did they receive a good prospect, he has already pitched in the bigs.
Pitching in June last year, Carpenter made 10 appearances. The 26-year-old was effective, holding his opponents scoreless in eight of those outings. He posted a 2.79 ERA and limited left-handed hitters to a .143 average (2-for-14). Between Double-A, Triple-A and MLB last year, he had 42 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.
The scouting report is very good, too.
His fastball sits comfortably between 92 and 96 mph but has hit 101 in the Arizona Fall League. He also has a good slider and a decent changeup. Control is his biggest problem, but all the tools are there for him to be a worthwhile late-innings guy.
If he sees big league action at all in 2012, it will be in late September, but when you consider that even a few days ago, it looked like Boston would get a nobody as compensation, this has to be a good result for the Red Sox.