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AP source: Epstein to Cubs likely within 48 hours
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
The Cubs fired general manager Jim Hendry on Aug. 19 and finished 71-91. They have been pursuing Epstein, who just finished his ninth season with Boston. The Red Sox missed the playoffs following a record collapse, going 7-20 in September and finishing at 90-72.
Epstein would be going to a Cubs franchise that hasn’t won the World Series since 1908. Boston hadn’t won a championship since 1918 until doing it in 2004, Epstein’s second year as general manager. The Red Sox also won it all in 2007.
His expected departure would be the latest in the wake of Boston’s disastrous finish. On Sept. 30, two days after the Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the regular season, Terry Francona’s eight-year stint as manager ended.
The Red Sox had two years of options on Francona, but he said during a meeting the morning of Sept. 30 with Epstein and team owners John Henry and Tom Werner that he thought the club needed “a new voice” after problems arose in the clubhouse.
Through Sept. 3, the Red Sox held a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL wild card. The teams were tied in the standings going into the final day of the regular season. The Red Sox lost to Baltimore 4-3 a few minutes before the Rays beat the New York Yankees 8-7 in 12 innings to gain the playoff spot.
“This is one for the ages, isn’t it?” Epstein said moments after the Rays won.
No team has blown a bigger lead in September and missed the playoffs. Boston did not win consecutive games at any point in the month.
It was a startling fall for the Red Sox and Epstein, who attended Brookline High School close to Fenway Park and became baseball’s youngest general manager ever at 28 years, 11 months when he was appointed on Nov. 25, 2002.
But he’s been criticized for giving long-term, costly contracts to free agents J.D. Drew, John Lackey and Carl Crawford, none of whom came close to meeting expectations.
One of Epstein’s highest priorities could be determining the future of manager Mike Quade, who has one year left on his two-year contract.
Also to be determined is the future of the emotional Zambrano. He cleaned out his locker and talked about retiring after giving up five homers and being ejected during a loss to Atlanta on Aug. 12. He was suspended for 30 days without pay and then it was decided he would sit out the rest of the season one year after undergoing counseling following an outburst in the dugout against teammates.
Zambrano was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA and has a year left on the five-year, $91.5 million deal he signed in 2007.
Ricketts has been impressed with the Red Sox model and how they overhauled Fenway Park and increased revenue streams by adding seats above the Green Monster in left field and other parts of the stadium. Fenway is the only park in the majors older than Wrigley Field.
AP Sports Writer Rick Gano in Chicago contributed to this report.
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