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Epstein not out the door — yet

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 11, 2011 08:25 PM

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Major league sources said tonight that no deal is in place for Theo Epstein to join the Chicago Cubs in an upper management capacity. But a resolution is expected in the coming days.

Epstein is weighing the decision and is not necessarily a lock to leave the Red Sox after nine seasons. But his interest in the Cubs has progressed to a point where the expectation is that he will leave.

Beyond compensation from the Cubs — which would likely come in the form of minor league players — the various sides would have to negotiate what Red Sox staff members Epstein could bring with him to Chicago. That is more of an issue for Red Sox owner John Henry than compensation.

There also is at least some chance that Epstein could come to an agreement with Henry to stay. But the Cubs represent an opportunity for him to move into a higher echelon within the game and affect more than just the roster. As team president of the Cubs, Epstein would have far-ranging power within that organization.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has centered on Epstein as the person who can rescue the franchise from decades of futility. The Cubs last played in the World Series in 1945 and have not won it since 1908.

The downside for Epstein would be leaving behind his family and friends in his hometown and the team he grew up rooting for. Only 12 days ago, Epstein vowed he would do everything in his power to fix the Red Sox after two consecutive third-place finishes. He has not spoken publicly since, however.

Under Epstein, the Red Sox won World Series titles in 2004 and ’07. But the team has not won a playoff game since 2008 and suffered a historic collapse this season, going 7-20 in September and blowing a nine-game lead in the American League wild card race.

If Epstein leaves, the Red Sox have given every indication that senior vice president and assistant general manager Ben Cherington would replace him. A 36-year-old New Hampshire native and Amherst graduate, Cherington has been with the Red Sox since 1999.

Cherington was one of the team executives who filled in for Epstein during his break from the organization in 2005 and early 2006 because of a dispute with team president Larry Lucchino. Cherington has the confidence of Henry and has worked closely with Epstein for years in honing the organization’s philosophy.

Cherington has been representing baseball operations during recent meetings involving senior staff members and his transition to GM would be a smooth one.

The Red Sox have put their search for a new manager on hold while waiting Epstein to make his decision.

The Herald reported tonight that Epstein is on the cusp of leaving for the Cubs. But along with the Globe, ESPN and Comcast Sports New England are reporting that is not quite the case yet.

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