Rays announce managerial candidates

The Rays announced a preliminary list of eight managerial candidates to interview on Thursday afternoon, an interesting mix of expected candidates with a few surprises thrown in. They hope to have a manager in place by the Winter Meetings. The full list:

Rays bench coach Dave Martinez
Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo
Former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta
Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash
Former player Craig Counsell, currently a special assistant in the Brewers’ front office
Current/former player Raul Ibanez
Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu
Giants bench coach Ron Wotus

“This is a preliminary list of candidates, and we expect it will grow as we continue through this process,” Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said in a statement. “With a talented core of players and a strong clubhouse culture, our next manager will step into an enviable position. We will look for him to build upon that and take us to the next level.”

Martinez is the most obvious choice, given the time he spent alongside former Rays manager Joe Maddon. He knows the players, the front office and the other coaches. If Tampa Bay is going for continuity, he makes the most sense.

Montoyo, who’s worked in Tampa Bay’s farm system since 1997, was deservedly rewarded with an interview for the big-league job. He’s dealt with just about every player who’s come up with the Rays, won 633 games at the Triple-A level and captured seven division titles in eight years.

Wakamatsu is an interesting option. He managed the Mariners in 2009-10, coached for the Blue Jays and scouted for the Yankees before signing on as the American League champion Royals’ bench coach. Cash, a finalist for the Rangers job, is a Tampa native who spent some time with Tampa Bay during his playing career.

Acta and Wotus present different kinds of experience — Acta having managed in the Majors and Wotus having been on the Giants’ coaching staff since 1998 and their bench coach since 1999. Before that, he managed in San Francisco’s farm system from 1991-97. Wotus has been Bruce Bochy’s bench coach as the Giants won three of the last five World Series.

Counsell and Ibanez are perhaps the most surprising names on the list. Counsell retired in 2012 and is now a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin. Ibanez, reportedly being considered for the Yankees’ hitting coach job, is technically still an active player — he spent last season with the Angels and Royals.

-Adam Berry

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