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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OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.
The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.
A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.
Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.
Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.
Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.
With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.
Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.
Fox Sports first reported the agreement.
Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.
The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.
"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."
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