There has been so much smoke about Theo Epstein going to the Chicago Cubs to be their new GM that you have to think that there is really something to the story. Consider that the "organization" used house organ Dan Shaughnessy to announce that the Cubs had indeed asked permission. The club could have quietly said no. But they didn't do that. Announcing it like this through the Curly Haired Boyfriend says that the team wants the buzz out there. Buzz out in Chicago will build demand from the fans and create more pressure on the Cubs ownership to pay a price that normally might be considered too high.
This Red Sox organization may not be able to tell the worth of a free agent starting pitcher worth a damn but they can maximize value on assets. Theo Epstein is nothing but an asset at this point - an asset that has just one year left on a contract that Epstein will not renew. They want to sell high and they know the Cubs will be willing to pay the price.
The way I'd love to see this play out is the Red Sox grant the Cubs permission to speak with Epstein wit some basic ground rules. Then assuming Epstein signs with the Cubs - I'd like to see the compensation eventually worked out being the Red Sox assuming the final year of Carlos Zambrano's contract and the Cubs taking on the final 3-years of John "JaMarcus" Lackey's contract. The Red Sox could then eat part of Zambrano's contract and flip him to the Marlins for a prospect. I think this would be a fair deal. The Cubs would get the GM they want, the Red Sox would shed themselves of a cancer of a player and who knows - John Lackey may actually rebound to be a good 3rd started for the Cubs. To replace Theo - Ben Cherington would then be promoted to be the new Red Sox GM.
Keep in mind that potentially the Cubs have the contracts of both Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena coming off the books. That's almost $25 million which could be put towards a mega-contract for Albert Pujols. Can you imagine the buzz around the Cubs if they got both Theo Epstein and Albert Pujols?
This could be a rare situation where everyone gets what they want. So let it be written - so let it be done.