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Epstein in serious talks with Cubs, 'probably' ends up in Chicago

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Theo Epstein is in serious talks with the Cubs about a deal to run their baseball operations, and sources suggest he will "probably'' wind up in Chicago, though there is no evidence a deal has been completed yet with the beloved North Side team, as there are said to be a couple final hurdles to clear.

The issue of compensation between the teams is as yet unsettled, and is said to be one of a couple issues to solve before a trade can be completed, people familiar with the talks say. Epstein still has a year remaining on his Red Sox deal, at a salary said to be just under $3 million for 2012.

Compensation may not be the main hurdle. One source suggested the Red Sox might even take monetary compensation in exchange for Epstein.

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Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is said to have done a good sales job on a coveted gig, causing Epstein to lean that way, according to people familiar with their talks. Epstein has long had a close relationship with Red Sox owner John Henry, but while his relationship with team president Larry Lucchino is said to have improved in the past four years, they have had their share of battles in the past.

Epstein won two World Series as Red Sox GM following 86 years without a title in Boston, but the Red Sox suffered through a historic collapse this year, missing the playoffs by a single game after leading the wild card by nine games. That led to manager Terry Francona's exit after eight seasons. The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908.

The Boston Herald first reported Epstein was "on the verge'' of going to the Cubs.