Could

Could Theo Epstein and Terry Francona end up together with the Chicago Cubs?

Could Terry Francona and Theo Epstein team up again to attempt to bring a championship to another title-starved baseball franchise and fan base - the Chicago Cubs?

That's more than a little bit of an assumption, considering both are technically still with the Boston Red Sox. Though, Francona appears on his way out, according to a report from Fox Sports.

Different reports suggest both could be candidates for their current respective positions with the Cubs.

It's a long way down the road as of now, but the logistics make sense. The Cubs general manager position is open, after Jim Hendry was fired in late August. The club wants to hire a GM, so that he can in turn hire the manager of his choice.

Now, Epstein still has a club option in his contract for 2012 with the Red Sox, as does Francona. That option must be exercised by Oct. 8, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. That is one hurdle, along with the fact that if the Red Sox exercise the option, they have to grant the Cubs permission if they request to talk with Epstein.

According to the Sun-Times, though, Epstein may be ready to move on from the Red Sox like Francona. He has told friends that he would embrace the challenge. The challenge, of course, is bringing the Cubs and their fans their first World Series championship since 1908, the longest drought for any major North American sports team.

Now, if the Cubs hire Epstein, the dots seem to connect. The seemingly logical conclusion would point to Epstein wanting Francona as his manager, since the two have co-existed together well since Francona's arrival in Boston in early 2004, just more than a year after Epstein.

Perhaps their last press conference together supported that idea, as Epstein defended Francona from criticism off the Red Sox's September collapse that left them out of a playoff spot. Epstein said he would not let Francona be a scapegoat and placed blame for the meltdown on the entire organization.

A report earlier Friday said Francona could land in either Chicago organization, but other reports say the White Sox do not want to hire a big-name manager after ridding themselves of Ozzie Guillen and his exorbitant contract.

Francona, no stranger to success and management in a big market, would be a near-perfect fit with the Cubs. He even played with the team in 1986.

And if Epstein is there with him, the Tampa Bay Rays might not be the biggest benefactors from the Red Sox's collapse in 2011. It may be the Cubs.