Sources: Theo Epstein Nears Cubs Job

Theo Epstein, the general manager of the Boston Red Sox for two championship teams in the last eight seasons, could be on his way to the Chicago Cubs in the next day or two if the Red Sox and Chicago can conclude negotiations, according to two sources.

“It’s likely he’s going to go but nothing has been finalized,” a Red Sox official with direct knowledge of the negotiations told’s Gordon Edes.

The Cubs’ negotiations with Epstein about taking over the top baseball job in the organization have been going so smoothly that the team has asked Major League Baseball what protocol will be for compensation if Epstein decides to join the Cubs, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told’s Bruce Levine.

A source with knowledge of the talks told ESPN’s Karl Ravech that the compensation would involve prospects and/or cash, but no major league players would be part of the deal, following traditional precedent.

Also, Epstein’s title with the Cubs would be above his current title of executive vice president/general manager of the Red Sox, a source told Levine.

“Nothing will be resolved as quickly as has been speculated,” a source close to the negotiations told Edes, “and it is still unclear how this will be resolved.”

The Boston Herald first reported that Epstein was on the cusp of joining the Cubs.

Since the possibility of Epstein going to the Cubs first surfaced in August, Red Sox ownership has downplayed the possibility because Epstein is under contract with the Red Sox through 2012. But at no point have Red Sox owners John Henry or Tom Werner ever squashed the talk completely, nor has Epstein definitively ruled out the move.

Neither the Cubs nor Red Sox have formally acknowledged that the Red Sox granted permission to the Cubs to interview Epstein, but an industry source said Tuesday that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts spoke with Epstein last week and that Epstein met with Cubs president Crane Kenney in Chicago last weekend.

Sources indicated last week that the Red Sox have had informal conversations about changes in the event that Epstein did leave for the Cubs — and at the top of their hierarchy, there have been some discussions about the identity of the next manager without Epstein.

The Red Sox also have had informal conversations about candidates other than assistant GM Ben Cherington to replace Epstein, were he to leave. But Cherington appears to be the heir apparent if Epstein departs.

Source:  Buster Olney – ESPN The Magazine