Epstein, one of the last to arrive at The Pfister Hotel on Monday for the General Managers Meetings, said he and Hoyer were still reviewing the candidates before determining the next step.
"Right now, we're in the process where we've completed our interviews," Epstein said. "We're still doing work on the phone. We're going to step back and move into the evaluation and decision phase."
Asked if there was a chance of any more candidates besides the five they've talked to, Epstein said it was unlikely. However, Francona remains in the wings, and Epstein said the two "continue to talk."
There is no deadline to name the Cubs' new manager, Epstein said.
"No, just getting it right -- no real deadline," he said. "This is an important week. I'd like to think we can move into the decision-making phase this week."
Whomever the two pick would have to meet with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.
Hale played for the Red Sox and A's from 1984-88. He started his managerial career in 1993 in the Red Sox's Minor League system, and has also managed in the Rangers' system. He joined the Red Sox in '06, replacing Sveum. Hale was reportedly one of the finalists for the Blue Jays' managerial job last offseason, a spot that went to John Farrell.
As for Sveum and Maddux, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin knows both well.
"Dale is really very conscientious," Melvin said. "I'll go to the office sometimes after a night game at 8:30 in the morning, and he's pulling in on the motorcycle to go over hitters, prepare for the game and get a workout in. He studies the game well. He's done different facets of the game -- been a third-base coach, a hitting guy."
Melvin passed over Sveum twice, naming Ken Macha and then Ron Roenicke as Brewers managers.
"That's more a philosophical thing," Melvin said. "We wanted to go with a new name and a new face from outside."
Melvin said it doesn't surprise him that Maddux, who was Milwaukee's pitching coach for six seasons, wants to consider managing.
"I always thought he was someone who wanted to manage someday," Melvin said. "I didn't know when it would be."
Melvin said Maddux enjoys participating in the whole game, not just pitching.
"Anybody that wants to manage likes the entire game; they like to be the final decision-maker," Melvin said.