BOSTON (AP) – Negotiations over a new contract with Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who built the team that ended the franchise’s 86-year title drought, have stalled in the final days of the deal.

The three-year contract Epstein signed when Boston made him the youngest general manager in league history expires on Monday. That deal paid Epstein, now 31, about $350,000 a year. Media reports in recent days quote unnamed sources saying he’s seeking much more than his current deal.

Epstein turned down an offer on Tuesday that would have paid him $1.2 million a year for at least three years, according to The Boston Globe, citing a major league executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Neither Epstein nor the team’s owners immediately responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Negotiations heated up after the Red Sox were swept by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the AL playoffs earlier this month.

Before hiring Epstein in November 2002, five weeks before his 29th birthday, Boston offered Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane a five-year deal worth about $2.5 million a year. Beane chose to stay in California.

The New York Yankees signed GM Brian Cashman a three-year contract worth more than $5 million on Wednesday.

With a payroll second only to the Yankees, the Red Sox have gone to the playoffs in each of Epstein’s three years as GM – the first time in franchise history the team has gone to the postseason in three consecutive seasons.

A lifelong Red Sox fan, Epstein grew up blocks from Fenway Park and worked for the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres before joining Boston, first as an assistant GM, in early 2002.

The Red Sox reached the AL championship series in 2003, only to have ace pitcher Pedro Martinez collapse in Game 7 against the rival Yankees. The next year, with a new manager, the ballclub won its first World Series title since 1918.

Jon Daniels supplanted Epstein as baseball’s youngest GM when he was hired by the Texas Rangers this offseason, just six weeks past his 28th birthday.

AP-ES-10-26-05 1525EDT

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