The Rays have whittled their list of managerial candidates down to three and will select either Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu, Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash or Raul Ibanez to serve as their next skipper, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Earlier today, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the Rays would narrow the field to three candidates at some point today.
Wakamatsu has served as a big league manager before, managing the Mariners from 2009-10. He’s oft-cited as a candidate to receive another crack at managing a team and has drawn interest from multiple clubs in managerial searches since his dismissal from Seattle.
Cash, 37 in December, had an eight-year career as a catcher with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros and Rays. He was under strong consideration in the recent managerial searches for the Rangers and Astros as well.
Ibanez, 42, was a surprise entrant on the Rays’ initial list of 10, considering the fact that he was active on a Major League roster through season’s end. The 19-year veteran is a career .272/.335/.465 hitter with 305 homers and is known to be a positive influence in the clubhouse. Though his playing career continued through 2014, he’s only nine years younger than Wakamatsu and is actually nearly six years older than Cash.
That these are the finalists means the Rays had to make the tough decision not to advance bench coach Dave Martinez, their top internal candidate, into the final round. Martinez has long drawn praise around the game and interviewed for several other managerial positions but come up short each time. In a press release confirming the finalists, president of baseball operations Matt Silverman made the following statement: “The decision on Dave Martinez was especially difficult. He’s played a key role in our organization’s evolution, and he’s done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager. In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture.”
Topkin tweets that each of the finalists will be brought in for an interview the week of Dec. 1, so there will be no manager in place by Thanksgiving, but that should give the team time to make a decision prior to the Winter Meetings, which run from Dec. 7-11 in San Diego this year.