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Compensation case continues

More time given for teams to settle

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 3, 2011

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When the Cubs asked permission of the Red Sox to speak to general manager Theo Epstein, it was granted with the stipulation that “significant’’ compensation would be expected in return if Epstein were hired away.

But what is significant to the Cubs does not match up with the expectations of the Red Sox.

What has been a tedious process will go on, the sides getting permission from Major League Baseball yesterday to keep talking.

“We’re going to have a little more time to work it out, not sure exactly how much, at least a week I would guess,’’ new Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. “It’s just sort of a practical decision with everything going on for Theo in Chicago and us here. We just haven’t had a lot of time to spend on it.’’

“It was mutually agreed upon to give ourselves at least another week before we turn it over [to MLB].’’

The teams have been dickering since Oct. 12, when Epstein agreed to a five-year contract with the Cubs.

Epstein was allowed by the Sox to resign Oct. 21 in the belief that a deal eventually would be struck. Two days later, commissioner Bud Selig set a Nov. 1 deadline for the issue to be decided or he would step in and mediate.

Now there is an amorphous deadline as both clubs work on hiring managers while dealing with free agents.

But the Sox remain firm in their commitment to get something tangible in return.

“There aren’t a lot of managerial precedents as far as compensation and even less on the executive side,’’ said Cherington. “Because of that, our position has been that we have to look at this particular circumstance.

“There was an understanding, again, at the very beginning that the Red Sox would get significant compensation if Theo left to go to Chicago. That’s been the challenge, agreeing on what ‘significant’ means.’’

Cherington said that Red Sox ownership did not want Epstein to leave, given the team’s September collapse and the departure of manager Terry Francona.

“There were a lot of things that were going on at the time that made him leaving perhaps challenging,’’ Cherington said. “That’s why our ownership feels they need to be compensated for that.’’

Hitting the market

The exclusivity period for free agents ended at 12:01 a.m. That put 166 players into the market, including David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon. Cherington said the Sox would get in touch with “a bunch’’ of players today to gauge their interest. “Not much happens right away,’’ he said. “It takes a while.’’ Ortiz has not been a free agent since the Twins released him in 2002. He is hoping to return for a 10th year in Boston, and Cherington wants him back - at the right price. Ortiz remained in Boston after the season and has been talking to the team. Communication with Papelbon has been through his agents. “I wouldn’t expect any closure on either of those guys any time soon,’’ Cherington said.

Three Silver Sluggers

Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, and Ortiz were named to the Silver Slugger team as the best hitters at their respective positions. The award is voted on by coaches and managers. The Sox were the only team with three winners. Ellsbury and Gonzalez are the first Sox teammates to win the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in the same season. Ellsbury hit .321 with 46 doubles, 32 homers, and 105 RBIs. Gonzalez hit .338 with 27 homers and 117 RBIs. A five-time Silver Slugger at DH, Ortiz hit .309 with 29 homers and 96 RBIs.

Middlebrooks out

Third base prospect Will Middlebrooks sprained a ligament in his left thumb and was placed in a cast, ending his season in the Arizona Fall League after 13 games. Cherington said Middlebrooks should be fine after 4-6 weeks . . . The Sox are close to announcing how their baseball operations staff will be restructured. Vice president of player personnel and pro scouting Allard Baird joined Cherington to watch Dale Sveum’s press conference.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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