On Tuesday, SI.com's Jon Heyman reported the Cubs and Epstein may add Padres GM Jed Hoyer to Chicago's baseball operations department. If Hoyer left San Diego, Josh Byrnes would be elevated from vice president of baseball operations to Padres general manager, Heyman said.
Heyman said the Cubs could give Hoyer the GM title and make Epstein team president. Hoyer is under contract through 2013 with a club option for 2014, however, so compensation to the Padres -- which could be considerable given the length of time remaining on his deal -- might be necessary to release him from his deal.
"I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far and I'm excited about what we continue to build here in San Diego," Hoyer told XX 1090, the Padres' flagship station. "I'm busy interviewing hitting coaches today and I'm not going to comment on media speculation."
Byrnes would not comment when contacted by Heyman. Cubs officials would not comment on the report.
Hoyer joined the Red Sox in 2002 at the same time as Epstein, and left to join the Padres in October 2009. Byrnes also worked as Epstein's assistant before becoming GM of the Diamondbacks, who he led to the NLCS in 2007 before being dismissed in July 2010.
The Cubs and Red Sox continued to negotiate terms to free Epstein. The two teams could set their own deadline to complete talks but Game 1 of the World Series between the Cardinals and Rangers is Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. No news conference was scheduled Tuesday for the Stadium Club at Wrigley Field.
The Red Sox are poised to move on. Assistant general manager Ben Cherington is in position to take over the team. But Boston's search for a new manager to replace Terry Francona is on hold until the GM situation is resolved.
The Cubs will not comment on the GM search, and the Red Sox have declined to comment on Epstein's status.
The Red Sox apparently are trying to restock their pitching in the Minor Leagues. They have dealt pitchers in recent years to acquire Victor Martinez and Adrian Gonzalez. There were reports the Red Sox aimed high and asked for starter Matt Garza as compensation, but the Cubs rejected that option.
Boston was believed to be targeting right-hander Trey McNutt, who was currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. A 32nd-round pick in 2009, McNutt battled blisters and a bruised rib cage this season at Double-A Tennessee and was 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 23 games. McNutt, 22, was 10-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts at Class A, Class A Advanced and Double-A in 2010.
Another arm in the mix could be right-hander Chris Carpenter, a third-round pick in 2008, who pitched in relief at Tennessee, Triple-A Iowa and briefly with the Cubs this season. But Chicago doesn't have much depth in the system, which was evident this past season when the Cubs lost Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells to injuries after their first starts and struggled to fill their spots in the rotation.
The Cubs have been looking for a new general manager since chairman Tom Ricketts dismissed Jim Hendry two months ago. Interim GM Randy Bush has handled the day-to-day operations, but there are decisions to be made once the World Series ends. Free agency begins five days after the final out.
Ryan Dempster has a $14 million player option for 2012 and will have a 15-day window after the series is over to decide whether he will return. Dempster is most likely as anxious as Cubs fans -- and Red Sox nation -- to see if Epstein takes over.
The Cubs staff also is on hold. Manager Mike Quade is under contract for 2012, but only hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is believed to be signed for next year. The others have contracts that expire at the end of October.
In Epstein's nine years as GM, the Red Sox won two World Series and reached the postseason six times. What's that worth?
Friday is a travel day for the Cardinals and Rangers. Perhaps Cubs and Red Sox followers will find out then.