Source: Theo Epstein still at it in Boston

BOSTON -- By all appearances, according to a Red Sox team source, it remained business as usual on Yawkey Way as of Thursday afternoon. The general manager, Theo Epstein, was in his office, and his coterie of assistants, including GM-in-waiting Ben Cherington, remained engaged in their normal duties, which in Cherington's case is first and foremost heading up the team's search for a new manager.

So far, according to the source, Epstein has yet to inform most of his staff whether he is headed to the Chicago Cubs to take over their baseball operations, despite widespread reports that he has accepted a five-year deal to relocate. The Cubs and Red Sox must still work out what compensation the Red Sox will receive for allowing Epstein out of the final year of his contract, and there is also the matter of which aides Epstein will be allowed to take with him.

The Red Sox have twice permitted Epstein lieutenants to leave for GM positions: Josh Byrnes to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jed Hoyer to the San Diego Padres. In both instances, they were allowed to take two Red Sox staffers with them, one apiece in terms of major staff positions. In 2005, Byrnes took Peter Woodfork, the team's director of baseball operations, with him to Arizona, along with a highly regarded stats guru named Shiraz Rehman, who had been a Red Sox intern. In 2009, Hoyer was permitted to take scouting director Jason McLeod and Sam Ray, who is now assistant to the scouting director. But it took weeks before the Red Sox gave McLeod permission to leave.

Epstein's inner circle, besides Cherington, includes Mike Hazen, vice president of player development and amateur scouting; scouting director Amiel Sawdaye; Brian O'Halloran, vice president of baseball operations; Allard Baird, vice president of player personnel; Dave Finley, special assistant to the GM; and Craig Shipley, the senior VP of player personnel and international scouting.

Hazen would seem to be an untouchable, given the vital role he plays in maintaining the team's stream of prospects, and the Cubs have a highly regarded scouting director in Tim Wilken. But Epstein has always valued a strong core of trusted voices around him, so it would seem a given that he will seek permission from the Red Sox to take a couple of people with him.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.