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Deal is now closer

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 20, 2011

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The Red Sox and Cubs are making progress in determining compensation for general manager Theo Epstein, with an announcement possible as early as tomorrow.

Major League Baseball would have to give permission for the teams to announce the move during the World Series. But commissioner Bud Selig likely would grant that to allow the teams to move forward with their business. Team sources indicated the Sox were optimistic a settlement could be reached in the coming days.

The Sox are expected to receive a package of prospects in return for Epstein, who is bolting Boston with one year remaining on his contract.

Ben Cherington has been running baseball operations for the Sox and is expected to be formally named GM once Epstein’s move becomes official.

Epstein agreed to a five-year, $18.5 million deal to direct baseball operations for the Cubs eight days ago. According to reports by Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports, he already has started assembling a staff that could include Jed Hoyer as the general manager.

Hoyer, the GM of the Padres and a former Epstein assistant with the Sox, would not comment on the possibility yesterday.

If Hoyer were to jump to the Cubs, Josh Byrnes is his likely replacement with the Padres. Byrnes, another former Epstein assistant, has been working for San Diego since being fired by the Diamondbacks last year.

According to a report by ESPN, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is close to Padres owner Jeff Moorad and Hoyer’s switch would not be a complicated one.

An out for Lackey?

For Sox fans eager for good news, the San Diego Tribune reported that the Padres have held discussions about acquiring John Lackey from Boston.

The Sox would be likely to pick up most of the $45.75 million remaining on his contract. Lackey’s deal also calls for a $500,000 payment if he is traded.

Lackey was 12-12 with a 6.41 earned run average this season. But he had his best seasons under Padres manager Bud Black, the former Angels pitching coach. The 32-year-old righthander is largely reviled in Boston for his poor performance and role in the ongoing chicken and beer scandal.

Francona bows out

Former Sox manager Terry Francona has pulled out of a charity golf tournament that was supposed to honor him Monday at The International in Bolton.

Francona, out of the area visiting his daughter, informed the club last night that he had decided not to attend “Thank You Terry Francona Day,’’ and The International canceled the event.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette contributed to this report; Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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