Theo Epstein could be minutes or hours away from being introduced as the new president and/or general manger of the Chicago Cubs.
Or days. It really depends on who’s talking.
A FOXSports.com story Thursday suggested Epstein is close to a deal with the Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and fired GM Jim Hendry on Aug. 19 before a 71-91 finish to the season.
In Boston, the Herald newspaper reported on behalf of a top Red Sox offiical Thursday that an imminent resolution to the Epstein compensation talks with the Cubs is false.
“There seems to be a fundamental divide in the way the two clubs look at this,” the source told the Herald, adding there hasn’t been progress of late and that a resolution isn’t expected soon.
Early in the compensation talks it was reported the Red Sox asked for top starter Matt Garza (10 wins, 3.32 ERA, 197 strikeouts in 2011), but it’s believed the teams will settle on a package of prospects and/or cash and not major league players.
Epstein, 37, has one year left on his contract with Boston.
Should an agreement be reached Thursday, Major League Baseball could grant the Cubs permission to hold a news conference during Friday’s off-day in the World Series, but the commissioner frowns on teams making major announcements during this time period.
John Henry: Deal 'not close'
Red Sox owner John Henry also told the Boston Globe that a deal is “not close.”
Epstein just finished his ninth season with the Red Sox, who missed the playoffs following a record collapse, going 7-20 in September.
Boston hadn't won a championship since 1918 until doing it in 2004, Epstein's second year as GM. The Red Sox also won it all in 2007.
If Epstein joins the Cubs, it’s believed he would hire San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer for the same role in Chicago.
In Boston, there has been talk that Red Sox assistant GM Ben Cherington would succeed Epstein.
“He’s a very smart guy and he’s learned a lot working under Theo,” former New York Mets GM Omar Minaya said of Cherington in a recent interview with the Globe. “He knows how to deal with the media and he’ll be his own man.”
Cherington was originally hired in Boston by one-time GM Dan Duquette in 1997 as an intern on the team’s scouting and player-development staff. Two years later, Cherington was a full-time scout with the team and remained in the organization when Henry bought the Red Sox in 2002.
“Very bright, smart, definitely a guy who can evaluate talent,” is how Duquette described the 37-year-old Cherington to the Globe.
When Epstein left the organization for a period in 2005, Cherington and Hoyer were named co-GMs.