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Epstein agrees to deal with Cubs

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has an agreement in place to become head the of Cubs baseball operations, SI.com has confirmed.

Sources indicate Epstein's move from the Red Sox should be completed within a couple of days. Sources say the two teams were still discussing Boston's compensation for allowing the move, but this is not expected to curtail a deal. It will either be cash or minor-league players going to Boston, but according to people familiar with the deal, the the Red Sox will be content with cash.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is said by people close to him to be working on other things now, a strong indication that he's confident his top priority -- a new GM --has been settled. Epstein has led the Cubs' wish list for a new GM since they began the process after parting ways with Jim Hendry this season. People who speak to Ricketts say he has long praised the "Red Sox model.''

Epstein will make about $15 million over five years with the Cubs, according to someone familiar with the talks. He is also to receive a "conclusion bonus'' or "buyout transfer,'' monies that were part of his Red Sox deal but will now be paid by the Cubs, bringing his total take to about $18.5 million over the five years.

The deal with the Cubs was first reported by WEEI after The Boston Herald reported Tuesday he was close to going to Chicago.

After helping the Red Sox break an 86-year championship drought with World Series titles in 2004 and '07, Epstein will be entrusted to try to do the same with the Cubs, who haven't won a World Series since 1908.

Epstein sought and received permission to interview with Chicago last week, and sources indicate that once Red Sox owner John Henry perceived Epstein was entertaining thoughts about leaving, he wasn't prepared to "chase'' him. Though Epstein has long had a close relationship with Henry, his relationship with club president Larry Lucchino had its share of tension even as Lucchino let Epstein largely handle the baseball work over the past few years.

Ben Cherington, an Epstein assistant, appears to be the likely new GM in Boston. Among his first tasks will be taking up a managerial search for Terry Francona's replacement.

Similarly, Epstein is likely to embark on a managerial search of his own. It seems all but assured Mike Quade will not be retained. Some with ties to the Cubs have thought for weeks that Cubs icon Ryne Sandberg has a chance for the job.

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