Lucchino-Beeston connection paved way for Farrell
Front office relationship made negotiations easier for new Sox manager
BOSTON -- It could have been an uncomfortable situation, the Red Sox trying to pry John Farrell out of his contract with Toronto to come manage an American League East rival.
But sometimes in baseball, it is all about relationships.
If not for the long-standing relationship that Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino enjoys with Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, this complex transaction might have never even gotten off the ground -- let alone come to fruition.
"The relationship between our ownership and, in particular, Paul Beeston, was critical in allowing us to open a door that ultimately we were able to walk through and led to this moment," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said as Farrell was introduced as manager on Tuesday. "[Owner] John [Henry], [chairman] Tom [Werner] and Larry all played a critical role in the process. It was really a true team effort."
Henry was the one who first reached out to Beeston. After that, Lucchino took on a more active role, conversing fairly smoothly with his long-time friend.
This isn't to say the negotiations didn't have their bumps in the road. Lucchino admitted there were times during the process he didn't know if the Red Sox would be able to spring Farrell free.
"We had plenty of conversations," Lucchino said. "You've got to understand that Beeston and I are very good friends. We can spend plenty of time talking about the War of 1812 or the American presidential campaigns and other gossip in baseball. We do that a lot.
"This time, it was certainly primarily focused on the business at hand. Paul was very strong and assertive about the interest in his team. If they were going to release someone from their contract who they thought had a high degree of importance, they needed someone of quality in return. There was really plenty of talk about both the principles and the standard to be applied to this transaction.
"And then Ben and [Blue Jays GM] Alex [Anthopoulos] were part and parcel of that discussion a lot of the times, and often times were asked to focus on particular players who might work. Anyway, I would say generally that it was amicable, it was honest and it proved to be productive, I think, for both teams."
The compensation was eventually settled with shortstop Mike Aviles going to the Blue Jays and pitcher David Carpenter coming back from Toronto along with Farrell.
"There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether this thing could be done. We had to prepare for Plan B," Lucchino said.
What was the turning point?
"I don't know. I like to think it was sweet reasonableness that somehow reared its lovely head in the middle of the process," Lucchino said.
Just because Beeston considers Lucchino a friend doesn't mean he went easy on him.
"Let's just say that they made substantial demands on us throughout the process," Lucchino said. "It had to evolve over time for us to find the right combination of consideration, because they absolutely deserved important consideration, and they got it in our last year's starting shortstop. It's a far cry from the process we went through last year with regards to our general manager."
While the compensation seemed fairly settled, the Red Sox still needed to determine for sure that Farrell was their best choice from a group that also included Brad Ausmus, Tony Pena, DeMarlo Hale and Tim Wallach.
That was another case where familiarity was probably the over-riding factor -- this time between Farrell and the Red Sox.
As Boston's pitching coach from 2007-10, Farrell still has plenty of relationships within the organization. In fact, his relationship with assistant general manager Mike Hazen goes back to their days with the Indians, when they ran a farm system together.
"When John was here previously as pitching coach, [former Sox GM] Theo [Epstein] and I used to talk about managerial candidates and we felt John had the capability of doing that, and do it well," said Cherington. "We didn't want him to go to Toronto [in 2010], but you don't stand in the way of something like that."