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Compensation talks will begin soon

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  October 13, 2011 11:29 AM

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CHICAGO The Cubs and Red Sox have not begun their compensation discussions regarding the departure of Theo Epstein, who has agreed to a 5-year, $18.5 million deal with the Cubs, according to a team source.

For the deal to be final, the Red Sox will be given compensation in the form of a player or two.

While it's been suggested here that the Red Sox be tough in holding out for a top player, the chances of extracting shortstop Starlin Castro or righty Matt Garza appear slim. The Cubs don't exactly have a plethora of big prospects either, but they do have a few who might be of interest.

Their top prospect is Brett Jackson, a speedy lefthanded hitting center fielder who was a 20-20 guy in their system this year and not far from the big leagues. Matt Szczur, an A-ball outfielder and righthanded hitter, is also highly regarded. Third baseman Josh Vitters, a former top pick, hasn't panned out, but is now playing some outfield in the Arizona Fall League. The Cubs' top pitching prospect is righty Trey McNutt. Other pitchers they might part with are Jon Jackson or Alberto Cabrera.

The Red Sox like utilityman Jeff Baker, but that would not appear to be enough for Epstein.

The assistant GMs of both teams Ben Cherington and Randy Bush will do the bulk of the negotiating for the players while Larry Lucchino and Tom Ricketts will sign off on whatever the deal may be.

The Sox would love for the Cubs to take John Lackey, but that is also a long shot.

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