The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy reports that the Cubs have officially asked permission to speak to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.
According to Shaughnessy, there were meetings at Fenway Park this afternoon regarding the team’s response to the request.
Epstein is under contract for another year, so the Red Sox would have the right to refuse the request. Or, as the Globe’s Peter Abraham notes, the Red Sox could agree to such a request with the stipulation that they receive compensation in the event that the Cubs and Epstein reach an agreement.
The Cubs are also thought to have some interest in Red Sox assistant GM Ben Cherington. Complicating things there is that Cherington would almost certainly step in for the Red Sox if Epstein leaves.
A source close to Epstein said earlier this week that it was 50-50 whether Theo would leave the Red Sox.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.