I do believe that the MLB FO has come out and stated that prospects and or cash would only be the acceptable means of getting
a deal done. I also read that this is due to the league being extremely nervous for future negotiations regarding executives.
Well, then, given that by most accounts the Cubs don't actually have
any prospects, this should be a dead deal.
I understand the league's concerns, but of course, the Cubs aren't obligated to hire someone who is already under contract elsewhere. It doesn't work that way with players. It traditionally has worked that way to some extent with executives – but then, that's usually "we want to hire your assistant whatever to be our head whatever," and teams oblige rather than stand in the way of career advancement.
This is, "we want to hire your head guy to do the exact same thing for us, and we're just going to slap some extra title onto the job so that you feel like you have to play ball." There's no career advancement. It's just some window dressing and "a change of scenery" or "a new opportunity" or something.
That's all well and good. Better to oblige and part with Theo on good terms than to drag it out through next season if that's the way it's going to go.
But still, tough shit if you're the Cubs. You're trying to make a big PR splash by hiring a big, well-known name. You value him enough, beyond the PR (which is a huge, huge part of this), to offer him $15 million (which, granted, is only roughly the equivalent of 125 games worth of Alfonso Soriano). That's great. But he's someone else's property. And he's not just of equal value to any other executive that the Cubs might try to hire away from some other team.
That's not to say that his value is equal to that of the Cubs 2 best MLB players, or whatever. But the Red Sox should hold out for more than what they were going to give up 10 years ago to acquire a less experienced, less accomplished GM. If Bud Selig doesn't like it, then fine. The Sox can just say "no deal."