The Boston Red Sox are reportedly standing in the way of letting the Cubs interview Torey Lovullo for their manager job, and if that is indeed the case, it would set a bad precedent, no matter the circumstances.
The world champion Red Sox, or any team, should not stand in the way of a coach taking the next step in his career. That's standard operating procedure in sports.
The spirit of the agreement, when the Cubs hired Theo Epstein as team president from Boston in October 2011, isn't being broken here. When Epstein was hired, the Red Sox simply didn't want an employee who was still under contract at the time to pilfer their organization. So they said the Cubs they could hire Epstein, but he couldn't bring key personnel with him. Fine. But this is two years later and Lovullo has left Boston and come back since Epstein was hired. If he was so valuable, why did the Red Sox let him coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011-2012?
Red Sox ownership could be playing a dangerous game if they don't allow Lovullo to interview with the Cubs. Boston didn't have a problem hiring manager John Farrell away from the Blue Jays last offseason while he held the same position in Toronto. Now they might block a bench coach from leaving? That's bad for business and bad for the reputation of a top organization in the game. And potentially asking for a player in a trade in order to hire a coach is a reach.
And when exactly did the Cubs realize the Red Sox would block them? Yes, Boston was busy for the last several weeks, but it doesn't take more than a phone call or email to inform them there might be a problem. If the Cubs knew all along there would be an issue in talking to Lovullo and are still waiting things out, then he must be high on the list of candidates.
The situation appears to be in a gray area in regards to the agreement between the clubs from 2011, which means it's possible the Commissioner's office might have to get involved, if it hasn't already.