(Theo, shown during his little-known tenure as a hired-hand guitarist in Springa’s 2008 SSD touring lineup)

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo kidded around about staking out a Wrigleyville Starbucks in search of Theo Epstein earlier today, but perhaps he’d have been better off hacking into the cell phone of the Herald’s Steve Buckley, who reports the Red Sox GM is “on the cusp” of leaving Boston with a year to go on his contract, and assuming “greater powers” with the Chicago Cubs.

The hangup in the negotiations has been twofold. One of them is that Red Sox ownership was still hoping to have Epstein remain with the team. The other is compensation: If Epstein is to leave Boston, said one source with knowledge of the negotiations, the Red Sox are going to want “something real.”

Whether that involves a player, money or a combination of the two remains unclear.

Hey, what could be more real than a living, breathing Starling Castro? That said, even in the very unlikely event the Red Sox obtain top line talent for an executive, they’ve managed to jettison the only managerial/GM duo in team history to have won 2 World Series. For those in Boston possibly offended by the Cubs tampering with Epstein, WEEI.com’s Alex Speirer reminds us that 9 years ago,  CEO Larry Lucchino essentially mounted a weeks-long sit-in – after the A’s initially had denied the Sox permission to talk to Billy Beane– until former A’s owner Steve Schott finally relented and gave the Sox the chance to talk to Beane, at a time when he remained under contract in Oakland for six more seasons.”

In both Moneyball (the Michael Lewis bestseller about the A’s under Beane) and Feeding the Monster (Seth Mnookin’s tome about the Red Sox’ construction of a champion), the Sox and A’s — with Beane negotiating for the Sox, and Oakland Assistant GM Paul DePodesta in charge of negotiations for the A’s — are said to have worked out a deal to send Beane to Boston for Kevin Youkilis.

In point of fact, noted one person familiar with the talks, while the A’s and Sox discussed different trade possibilities, with Youkilis being in the conversation, there never was a final deal in place by the time that Beane’s change of heart scuttled the deal.

Still, that connection of Beane to Youkilis (at the time, a promising yet undervalued third base prospect whose tremendous plate discipline had yielded high OBPs but no real power) serves as the closest thing to a precedent in determining the trade value of a GM.

(UPDATE : Perhaps this isn’t the right night for me to have suggested — even jokingly — the Globe’s sports department is a few steps behind the Herald.  Bob Hohler’s thorough dissection of Boston’s clubhouse climate leaves few Red Sox unscathed, and passages concerning Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester are especially damning.  Most sensational of all, however, are insinuations Terry Francona’s employers thought he had a problem with pain medication, along with the not-so-crazy suggestion that perhaps ownership was too preoccupied with things besides baseball to have the first clue what was happening.)