BOSTON (AP) – Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, whose contract expires Monday, and president Larry Lucchino reported progress in negotiations after they met Thursday.

They issued a brief statement one day after the Boston Globe reported that Epstein had turned down an offer of at least three years at $1.2 million per year on Tuesday.

“We had a meeting over lunch today to continue our discussions and to conduct other business as well,” they said in a joint statement. “We made progress, but we anticipate no further statement until there is something to announce. We are hopeful that these discussions will work out for the best. In the meantime, we continue “business as usual.”‘

Lucchino, Epstein and team owner John Henry did not respond to e-mails from The Associated Press.

Epstein became the youngest general manager in baseball history when the Red Sox hired him five weeks shy of his 29th birthday in 2002. He signed a three-year contract that paid about $350,000 a year.

For the first time in their history, the Red Sox reached the playoffs in each of Epstein’s three seasons and, last year, won their first World Series championship since 1918. In 2003, they lost in the seventh game of the AL championship series to the New York Yankees in seven games and, this year, were swept by the Chicago White Sox in three games in the AL division series.

Negotiations on a new contract intensified after the Red Sox were eliminated.

Epstein, a lifelong Red Sox fan who grew up near Fenway Park, worked previously for two teams where Lucchino was president and CEO, beginning as an intern with the Baltimore Orioles in 1992. Lucchino moved on to San Diego in 1995 and Epstein went there as part of the team’s baseball staff in 1997. He was director of baseball operations for the Padres before joining the Red Sox as an assistant general manager after a group headed by Henry took over ownership on Feb. 27, 2002.

AP-ES-10-27-05 1728EDT

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