David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com heard from sources Saturday that talks between the Cubs and Red Sox involving compensation for GM Theo Epstein had grown “increasingly contentious.”
Less than 24 hours later, things would seem to be moving in the right direction again.
An executive involved in the ongoing negotiations told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that recent discussions have been “business-like” and “civil,” and that the swap is slowly but surely moving forward.
Epstein has already agreed to a five-year, $20 million deal that will make him the new general manager of the Cubs, and Red Sox owner John Henry confirmed news of Theo’s departure during a radio interview Friday. But because the 37-year-old executive still had a year remaining on his contract with Boston, the Cubs have to send some form of compensation — likely a couple of lower-level prospects — to the Sawx in return.
Major League Baseball is surely pushing for the two sides to reach a resolution before the start of the World Series on Wednesday. Bud Selig and Co. tend to discourage major announcements during the Fall Classic.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.