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Payment delayed further

Compensation case put on back burner

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 18, 2011

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MILWAUKEE - Major League Baseball, it seems, has better things to do than mediate the ongoing dispute between the Red Sox and Cubs over the compensation for Theo Epstein.

Epstein said yesterday that the teams have tabled their talks until after the Rule 5 draft Dec. 8.

They have been talking since Oct. 12, when Epstein agreed on a five-year contract to become Chicago’s president of baseball operations.

The Red Sox made what now looks like a tactical error Oct. 21 when they allowed Epstein to resign as general manager and join the Cubs without the compensation issue having been settled.

On Oct. 23, commissioner Bud Selig set a Nov. 1 deadline for the matter to be settled before he would mediate. That day passed without Selig taking any action.

Now comes a further extension. The Red Sox have said they had an agreement with the Cubs that “significant’’ compensation would be paid if Epstein left. But deciding what is significant appears to be vexing.

In their plans

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who played in 17 games last season, is prominent in the Red Sox’ plans for 2012.

“We’re going to bring him to spring training and he’ll have an opportunity to make the team,’’ said general manager Ben Cherington.

Lavarnway, 24, hit .231 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 39 at-bats. He started the final two games of the season because of injuries to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek.

Lavarnway made great strides as a catcher last season with Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. He also hit .290 with a .376 on-base percentage, 32 home runs, and 93 RBIs over 116 minor league games.

The Red Sox are satisfied with Saltalamacchia as their catcher. But Lavarnway has more long-term offensive potential.

The Red Sox are not necessarily committed to Lavarnway being on the roster to start the season. But their willingness to consider that may speak to their plans for team captain Jason Varitek, a free agent.

Varitek, who turns 40 in April, wants to return to the Sox for a 16th season. But so far Cherington has committed only to keeping the door open for further discussions.

Interest in Minaya

The Red Sox are considering hiring Omar Minaya as a special assistant to Cherington. Minaya, the former GM of the Expos and Mets, has vast experience as a scout and many connections within Latin America. Cherington said Tuesday that he plans to reorganize the team’s international scouting operations, and Minaya could play a key role in that . . . Today is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft. The Red Sox are certain to add third base prospect Will Middlebrooks. But other decisions are not as clear. There are several players on the current 40-man roster - including Luis Exposito, Michael Bowden, Rich Hill, Darnell McDonald, and Andrew Miller - who could be dropped to make room for prospects deemed more valuable.

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

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