By Sean McAdam
It appears Theo Epstein is headed to Chicago.
Hours after a high-ranking baseball official with knowledge of the situation called Epstein's move to Chicago "close, but . . . not done yet", a report surfaced that the Red Sox' general manager has agreed to a five-year, 15 million contract to head up the Cubs' front office.
WEEI Radio's John Dennis, quoting sources, said the deal would be announced later in the week after the Red Sox and Cubs agree on a compensation package for Epstein. A report in Chicago Tuesday night suggested thatCubs owner Tom Ricketts was turning to Major League Baseball for direction on"compensation protocol", but a baseball industry source said any compensation was an issue between the teams anddidn't warrant any interference from MLB. While the Red Sox have some leverage in these talks -- the White Sox received two top prospects from the Marlins when they allowed manager Ozzie Guillen to break his contract and go to Florida -- it's highly unlikely they'll end up with an established player from the Cubs roster.
Epstein has a year remaining on his Boston currentcontract.
One National League source said the Cubs were prepared to make him president of baseball operations. The Cubs have Crane Kenney as their team president, but indications were that Kenney would be placed in charge of business operations, with Epstein in charge of the franchise's baseball operations.
In an unusual move, Ricketts last month extended the contracts of scouting director Tim Wilken and director of player development Oneri Fleita with new multiyear deals. That means that Epstein won't be able to hand-pick two of his top assistants, though it's likely that Red Sox ownership would have prohibited him from taking any other current Red Sox personnel with him as he exited the organization.
The Boston Herald was the first to report that Epstein was "on the cusp" of joining the Cubs and reported that compensation from the Cubs was the lone remaining sticking point.
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Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.
Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.
Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.
Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.
Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.
Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.
Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.
Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners.
Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014.
Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.