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Rays seek right ingredients in new manager

Manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the dugout during the top of the seventh inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians on May 9, 2014, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [Getty Images]
Manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the dugout during the top of the seventh inning of a game against the Cleveland Indians on May 9, 2014, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [Getty Images]
Published Nov. 2, 2014

At some point, though not necessarily soon given a potentially intriguing tampering claim against the Cubs over their hiring of Joe Maddon, the Rays will move on from what has been a jolting start to the offseason.

They'll take a step in that direction this week when, under new president of baseball operations Matt Silverman, they will reveal a dozen or so candidates to be their next manager.

Expect a list with some obvious names, starting with current bench coach Dave Martinez, and well-regarded coaches from other teams such as Tim Bogar (last with Texas, and a managerial finalist there) and Torey Lovullo (with Boston, and a finalist for the Twins job). Boston's Brian Butterfield, San Francisco's Tim Flannery and Ron Wotus and Toronto's DeMarlo Hale are others who could pop up.

There are some former managers — among many — who could make sense, such as Manny Acta or Don Wakamatsu. (Deposed Cubs manager Rick Renteria wouldn't seem to fit, just from the optics of hiring the guy fired to make room for Maddon.)

Long-time Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo deserves at least an interview.

And there likely will be some outside-the-box names — if not Gabe Kapler, who seems headed to a front office job with the Dodgers, then someone else who offers an appealing, if unconventional, combination of experience, brains and personality.

The Rays were quite proud of their work nine years ago, when they identified Maddon as not only a strong candidate but — in picking him over John McLaren — a potential star and were proved right.

There may be a certain sense of determination, if not bravado — especially after being scorned by Maddon — in making sure to not settle or pick the obvious guy (which wouldn't bode well for Martinez) and trying to go out and find the next great one.

TAMPA-ERING: Even if the Rays keep pushing on the tampering charge and get MLB to investigate, it would seem unlikely that any evidence would be uncovered to support their claim. And there is no precedent for any great damages if they did.

The gist of the Rays' issue is the feeling that the Cubs reached out to Maddon (or his agent reached out to the Cubs) sometime after it was known that exec VP Andrew Friedman was leaving, which opened a 14-day window for Maddon to opt out. Maddon spoke strongly about wanting to stay on Oct. 14 when Friedman's departure was announced. In short, the Rays believe something changed before Maddon finalized his opt-out Oct. 23.

MLB does have power to request phone records from team employees, and the union, which has purview over agents, could conceivably get involved.

And on an interesting related point, were the Cubs exempt from MLB rules about interviewing minority candidates before hiring Maddon to replace Renteria?

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Given all the change at the top, it sounds like the Rays will keep their minor-league staffs relatively intact. … SS Willy Adames, the now 19-year-old acquired from Detroit in the David Price trade, was named the Rays' top prospect by Baseball America. (See tampabay.com.blogs/rays for the full list). … Ben Zobrist got word of his $7.5 million option being picked up while serving as the homecoming guest speaker at Olivet Nazarene, which retired his No. 12. … Early 2015 odds from bovada.lv have the manager-less Rays at 33-1 to win the World Series; the Dodgers and Nats are 15-2 co-favorites. … LHP Enny Romero is getting some relief innings for Escogido in the Dominican league but still considered a starter; Adames is playing a short stint with Licey then will go back to working out at the Rays academy. … Rays officials, working again with KaBOOM!, will build a playground Thursday at the Team Success charter school in Bradenton. … Best wishes to Kelly Nash, who leaves the Rays TV broadcast crew in search of a bigger role elsewhere. … The spring training schedule is due out this week. … OF Kevin Kiermaier learns Tuesday if he won an AL Gold Glove.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.