Epstein has reportedly agreed in principle to a five-year deal, worth between $15 million and $18.5 million, to join the Cubs. But because he has one year remaining on his contract with the Red Sox, the two teams must resolve compensation and determine who -- if anybody -- can accompany Epstein from Boston.
According to sources Thursday, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is handling the negotiations with the Red Sox regarding players who possibly could be exchanged. The Cubs could send cash or a combination of players and cash. According to reports, the Cubs will not surrender any Major League players.
Assistant general manager Ben Cherington was told that he will be Boston's next GM, Tim Brown of Yahoo.com reported on Thursday. But Epstein would most likely want others from the the Red Sox staff to join him in Chicago.
The Cubs declined to comment Thursday on the reports or the general manager search, and the Red Sox have not commented on or confirmed the reports.
If Epstein does move to Chicago, he'll inherit a team that finished fifth the past two seasons and had a 71-91 record this year. Giddy Cubs fans who are predicting a World Series win in 2012 should keep in mind the Red Sox were coming off a 93-win season when he took over.
Epstein became Boston's general manager in late 2002, at the age of 28, and put together a team that won the World Series in 2004, ending an 86-year wait, then did it again in '07. The Red Sox reached the playoffs in six of his nine seasons as GM, but the 2011 team went 7-20 in September and blew a nine-game lead in the American League Wild Card race. Manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox mutually parted ways two days after the club's season ended.
Epstein will face a 103-year drought since the Cubs' most recent World Series championship.
"There is unique history in the sense of what [Epstein had] in Boston," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Wednesday. "It had been a while since they had success, especially to the level that he brought them to. Obviously, in Chicago they're trying to replicate that. But I don't want to speak for them."
Epstein would have the chance to change the Cubs' culture and remove the "lovable losers" tag.
"When you look at that type of hire, they're obviously changing their strategy and how they're going about it," Mozeliak said. "Not knowing what they're going to do or how they're going to attack, it doesn't necessarily mean instant success for 2012, but they surely are looking at this long-term and for that leadership."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Joe Frisaro contributed to this report. Muskat writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.