ST. LOUIS -- In a possible surprise twist, the Chicago Cubs and Theo Epstein are said to have interest in Padres general manager Jed Hoyer to join a baseball operations department they hope is headed soon by Epstein, who is waiting in limbo while the Cubs and Red Sox resolve the compensation issue to complete the trade that would put Epstein in charge of Chicago's beloved North Side team.
It's uncertain how the Padres would react to the Cubs interest in Hoyer but if he is able to go to Chicago, Josh Byrnes, who has been working as VP of baseball operations in San Diego, would be elevated to GM.
A move by Hoyer, 37, would be seen as fairly shocking since he's already a GM, but perhaps the Cubs could give him the same title, while making Epstein a president. Nothing is known to be finalized yet, and it could still be Byrnes going to Chicago, but the possibility that it could be Hoyer instead was raised by several people familiar with the talks.
Hoyer declined comment when reached by phone Tuesday, as did Byrnes.
Byrnes, the one most believed would be hired to assist Epstein in Chicago, has indeed seemed like a logical lieutenant for Epstein, but several sources suggest Hoyer is also at least on the radar of the Cubs/Epstein and could be the one who goes to Chicago. Hoyer's interest in Chicago is less clear, although it would represent a chance to reunite with Epstein while working for a large-market team.
It is also believed Epstein, who won two World Series in his nine years as Red Sox GM, is interested in Padres assistant GM Jason McLeod, who like Hoyer and Byrnes had worked for Epstein in Boston. The Cubs as of now haven't agreed to let Epstein hire from his current Red Sox front office, so it's no surprise he's considering his former assistants in Boston.
Meanwhile, the Cubs and Red Sox have been having difficulty finding common ground on compensation for Epstein and are not close to any agreement. Epstein has an $18.5 million, five-year deal with the Cubs ready to go once a trade is struck between those two teams. The Red Sox, feeling they have the leverage, even tried asking for the Cubs' best starting pitcher, Matt Garza, a request that was rejected by Chicago. Top prospects are more likely to be part of the package for Epstein.
The Hoyer scenario would be yet another interesting turn in this episode, as no one even envisioned the possibility he could leave San Diego. He became the GM there in late 2009 after having served as a trusted assistant for Epstein in Boston for years. Byrnes also worked as Epstein's assistant before becoming GM of the Diamondbacks, who he led to the NLCS in 2007 before being dismissed during the 2010 season.