The San Diego Padres are ready to promote Josh Byrnes to general manager if Jed Hoyer leaves for the Chicago Cubs, three people with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no deals have been announced.
Last week, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that Theo Epstein has agreed to a contract with the Cubs with a year left on his general manager contract in Boston. The person said compensation must be worked out.
ESPNChicago.com reported Thursday that Epstein will be the Cubs' president of baseball operations and Hoyer the GM.
The Padres would then promote Byrnes, the senior vice-president of baseball operations. He is a former GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Byrnes said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday evening that he couldn't discuss the situation. "Hopefully we'll know soon," he said.
Reached by phone, Hoyer said: "I'm not commenting on anything."
Byrnes and Hoyer both worked under Epstein in Boston.
Byrnes was hired as GM of the Diamondbacks in November 2005, when Jeff Moorad was one of Arizona's top executives. Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch were fired by the Diamondbacks on July 1, 2010.
In March 2009, a group headed by Moorad began its purchase of the Padres on an installment plan. Moorad fired Kevin Towers after the 2009 season and hired Hoyer away from the Red Sox.
The Padres went 90-72 in 2010, leading the National League West for much of the season before stumbling in September and missing the playoffs. After Hoyer traded three-time all-star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for three prospects and outfielder Eric Patterson in December, the Padres struggled badly and finished last in the division at 71-91.
The Diamondbacks, who hired Towers as GM late in the 2010 season, won the division this season.
Hinch was hired as the Padres' vice-president of professional scouting in September 2010. He was promoted to vice-president-assistant GM general last month. He could get promoted again if Jason McLeod goes with Hoyer to the Cubs. McLeod, who oversees amateur scouting and player development, is close with Epstein, his former boss in Boston.
If promoted, Byrnes will work with a player payroll of between $53 million and $55 million US — one of the smallest in the majors. It'll be his turn to try to field a team suited to Petco Park, a pitcher-friendly ballyard where runs are hard to come by.