The Epstein Compensation issue isn't over yet. Yes, we get Chris Carpenter, who's not even a poor man's Chris Carpenter. But there's still that ridiculous "player to be named later" stipulation to work out. Because there just hasn't been enough time to work out ALL the details over the past 4 months. Wouldn't surprise me if it takes another 4 months to bicker over which 32 year old career minor leaguer will complete the deal.
While the absurdity continues in the background, if we take a step back from the process, there are quite a few things we can learn about not only this specific situation, but MLB's compensation system in general.
First, and foremost, the Red Sox are morons. When the initial Epstein-to-Cubs conversations were taking place, names like Starlin Castro and Matt Garza were being bandied about. While most didn't think the Sox would get someone with quite their pedigree, it was apparent that the Cubs were going to have to part with someone that was going to cause them some pain. All anyone had to do was look at what the Marlins had to give up to get Guillen from the White Sox. The man being given the reigns to the Cubs franchise is surely on par with a manager, if not higher. Fast forward a week or so, and the Sox decide to let Epstein go without any agreement in place. Fast forward a little further, with Epstein fully entrenched in Chicago, and the Cubs are thumbing their noses at Boston refusing to give up anything.
And why should they? They've already got what they wanted. If the Red Sox were going to insist on getting a player back, they'd have to go through the commissioner's office. And, they did. And we all know how that turned out. All the Sox had to do was hold onto Epstein until an agreement was made. But, as they are in most areas, the Sox were too smart for that.
But the bigger problem is the compensation system in general. To put it simply: it needs to be nuked. It doesn't need to be altered. We don't need to tweak it. It needs to be destroyed in such a way that it never returns. And left in its wake will be: nothing. No compensation system at all.
If Epstein is signed through the 2012 season and he wants to go to Chicago before his contract is up, he can ask the Sox to be released. They can say "yes" or "no". If they say yes, maybe he has to buy out the last year of his contract and Henry gets a few more dollars in his pocket. If they say "no", he has to hang around Fenway for 12 more months, at which point he's free to sign anywhere he wants. Same for managers. If an Ozzie Guillen isn't working out with the White Sox and he'd rather head down to Florida, the White Sox have the option to let him go or make him stay. And if they let him go, they get nothing in return.
There's no reason it shouldn't be this simple. These aren't players. They're personnel. Trading personnel is a) stupid and b) far too messy. We've just had a front row seat to that. Instead of trying to set "guidelines" around every conceivable personnel swapping scenario, as some are suggesting, the whole idea should be erased.
Because no franchise needs to be embarrassed in the way the Sox have been embarrassed over the past 4 months. Except maybe the Orioles. Those guys deserve everything they get.