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Cubs’ GM saga still playing out

Mike Quade said he plans operate during offseasas if it’s business as usual. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

Mike Quade said he plans to operate during the offseason as if it’s business as usual. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: November 20, 2011 8:59AM

Progress continues slowly — with some accounts saying things are getting more complicated — as the Cubs try to reach a compensation agreement with the Boston Red Sox and finalize their hiring of Theo Epstein.

But sources said Tuesday that movement has been made in the talks. And even as the World
Series begins Wednesday — a
period in which Major League Baseball imposes an unofficial news blackout — sources remain optimistic an announcement might come as soon as Friday, the first day off of the Series.

Sources said an announcement of Epstein’s five-year, $18.5 million
deal with the Cubs is a matter of when, not if. It is being held up only by the compensation talks that have bogged down over specific names, including top starting-pitching prospect Trey McNutt, whom the Cubs refuse to give up.

Other high-end prospects, such as outfielders Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur, are also off the table, team sources said. And despite
reports that 2007 first-round pick Josh Vitters is in the same class, there is a divide among team evaluators about whether Vitters should be allowed to go to the Red Sox, a source said.

And cash compensation, which the Red Sox steadfastly had refused to consider initially, now might be part of the deal.

Meanwhile, reported the Cubs and Epstein are considering making a run at San Diego Padres general manager Jed Hoyer, one of Epstein’s top assistants during a stretch with the Red Sox that included World Series championships in 2004 and 2007.

That might be difficult at best, considering that Hoyer is under contract through 2013 with an
option for 2014 and would need a title ranking at least as high as GM to address protocol for one team
to allow a high-ranking official to be hired away by another.

And if Epstein becomes, say, president of baseball operartions with Hoyer as the GM, that would seem to fly in the face of Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts’ repeated insistence that he doesn’t need a ‘‘baseball guy to watch my baseball guy.’’

Epstein, though, built a large
inner circle in the Red Sox’ front
office when he took over in 2002, with multiple, creative-looking titles involved. And the Cubs, who had the smallest front-office staff in the majors when Ricketts took over, long have said they plan to increase the personnel.

In addition, sources confirmed Epstein has been assured he’ll be allowed to put together a similar staff with the Cubs, whether that means a run at Hoyer, other Padres execs in Jason McLeod and Josh Byrnes or somebody from the Red Sox’ existing front office.

While all this plays out, Cubs offseason business remains on hold at a time when other teams are holding their organizational meetings and, presumably, getting a jump on potential front-office and field-staff hires and trade or free-agency targets.

The Cubs tentatively have scheduled their organizational meetings
for the week leading up to the GM meetings Nov. 14-16 in Milwaukee.

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