The first day of the Texas Rangers’ annual after-season pro-scouting meetings Monday produced a clearer picture of where the club stands in its search for its next full-time manager.
That picture isn’t clear at all, other than there is no end in sight.
General manager Jon Daniels said that each of the eight who have interviewed for the job left favorable impressions in a variety of ways, and one of the remaining six from that pool could very well end up with the job.
But the Rangers also might seek interviews with new candidates, Daniels said, and it now appears certain the search will stretch beyond the World Series, which ends Oct. 31 if seven games are necessary, and into November.
Perhaps well into November.
“When we started, we said we didn’t necessarily have a deadline,” Daniels said. “We’re continuing to move along with club business. We would love to have the manager in place sooner than later to participate in some of the decisions that are going on now, but more important than timing is really getting the selection right.
“We’re don’t feel a rush, necessarily. We’re going to take our time to make sure we do get it right, and we appreciate our candidates’ patience in the meantime.”
Four clubs are seeking managers, though the Baltimore Orioles are also seeking a GM and haven’t started the process of hiring a manager. Two have made hires, with the Los Angeles Angels choosing Brad Ausmus and the Cincinnati Reds selecting David Bell.
More candidates could come off the board. The Toronto Blue Jays are said to have heavy interest in Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada, who interviewed with the Rangers in an extensive phone call.
He is the only candidate who hasn’t interviewed in person.
The Rangers could be biding their time until the World Series ends to interview Los Angeles Dodgers third-base coach Chris Woodward. Or possibly Boston Red Sox bench coach Ron Roenicke.
Two sources said that the Rangers spoke via phone with St. Louis Cardinals Triple A manager Stubby Clapp, the former Texas Tech player who, conveniently, is managing the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. Clapp, though, is also a candidate for the Blue Jays’ opening.
“There have been a few others we have been in contact with,” Daniels said.
The Rangers hired Jeff Banister on Oct. 16, 2014, 18 days after the regular season ended, but they didn’t hire Ron Washington until Nov. 6, 2006, 10 days after the World Series ended.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wasn’t hired until Nov. 23 in 2015.
“When we look up in February of 2019, ’20, ’21 or 22, ’23, I don’t think people will think too much whether the manager was hired tomorrow, in a week or two weeks,” Daniels said.
The five candidates besides Espada are Rangers interim manager Don Wakamatsu, Rangers assistant GM/coach Jayce Tingler, Philadelphia Phillies third-base coach Dusty Wathan, Chicago Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde and Tampa Bay Rays field coordinator Rocco Baldelli.
Bell and former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi are out of the mix.
It seems likely that new names will emerge as candidates.
Or maybe not.
“Listen, there is a good chance we have already interviewed or met with our eventual manager,” Daniels said. “But we are also open to expanding. We don’t have any limitation from a timeline. Obviously, we don’t want to go too long.
“Love to have everything done yesterday. It is more important to get it right.”