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Trey McNutt, You Say?

The compensation talks between the Red Sox and Cubs are ongoing, and the reasons for this aren't even clear anymore. Depending on who you ask, it's because the Red Sox are asking for too much, the Cubs want to send nothing, Larry Lucchino hates Theo Epstein, or, the simple-but-not-as-fun, the teams just haven't agreed on the value of a general manager with one year left on his deal yet.

Brett Jackson is off the table. This is about the only consistent thing that has been uttered across different writers and outlets. This should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, given this was written about Jackson about a week ago in this space:

The Cubs might be loathe to give up this prospect, but Boston could use the outfield depth with J.D. Drew departing, Ryan Kalish losing all of 2011 to injury after a 2010 that told us he wasn't quite ready for the majors yet, and Josh Reddick bouncing back-and-forth between being the answer and a question. Problem is, as my Baseball Nation colleague and Bleed Cubbie Blue czar Al Yellon points out to me, Jackson likely won't go anywhere for the exact reasons that Boston would want him. So, you'll just have to pine for him from afar.

Brian MacPherson mentions that the Red Sox have shifted their focus to pitching prospect Trey McNutt instead. McNutt is not one of the prospects that was covered last week when we first began to discuss compensation seriously, and honestly, it's because I thought he would be untouchable in an organization that could use pitching. That might still prove to be true, but with Boston not budging on their need for a prospect or two in return for Epstein, McNutt might end up as the perfect At Least It Wasn't Brett Jackson prospect the Cubs would move.

McNutt is 21 years old, and stuck at Double-A for all of 2011. In his 110 innings there, he has struck out 6.3 per nine while walking 3.5 per nine, but remember, he's very young for the level, and just one year ago, struck out over 10 batters per nine across three different levels. 

According to Kevin Goldstein, McNutt "fell apart mechanically" in 2011, but mechanics can often be fixed. He has thrown five innings in the Arizona Fall League, walking three and striking out zero, but it's just five innings, so it's tough to glean anything from it. He doesn't have the ceiling of the kind of prospect we might want for Epstein, but it's pretty obvious that no amount of stalling is going to get the Sox a Vitters or a Jackson, or even a Cashner. McNutt, who is both talented and a project, might be the kind of return you see Boston getting. Given how much he dominated in 2010, and his youth, it could be just the kind of guy you want the Red Sox asking for, though, especially since the Cubs might be more willing to part with him given his recent struggles. We could be very thankful for McNutt in two-to-three years, if he and Anthony Ranaudo were both major-league ready at the same time. That's a lot of "if," but that's prospects.