The Tampa Bay Rays have begun the tall task of replacing manager Joe Maddon, who opted-out of his contract in late October and recently signed on with the Chicago Cubs. The Rays announced that they have eight candidates on their preliminary managerial list. Several are former MLB players, and one -- DH Raul Ibanez -- hasn't even officially retired from the game.
The candidates are as follows: Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez, Tampa Bay Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo, Kansas City Royals' bench coach Don Wakamatsu, former Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta, San Francisco Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, Cleveland Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash, former longtime major-leaguer and current Milwaukee Brewers broadcaster Craig Counsell and Royals DH/pinch-hitter Ibanez.
The early front-runner for the job is thought to be Martinez, who has served as a bench coach for the Rays since 2007. Acta and Wakamatsu are the only two candidates with previous experience managing in the major leagues. Neither Counsell nor Ibanez have any professional experience as a coach or manager, although both have long been regarded as future big league coaches.
Ibanez hasn't officially retired as an active player and is currently a free agent. He split his 2014 season between the Los Angeles Angels and the AL champion Royals. Ibanez will turn 43 during the 2015 season and, after posting a 539 OPS this season, may be ready to hang up his playing spikes. The New York Yankees already reportedly expressed interest in bringing Ibanez in as a coach in 2015.
UPDATE: On Monday, the Rays added two more candidates to the list: Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and former MLB OF Doug Glanville. Neither has any professional managerial experience, but both are very well respected around the game for their baseball acumen.
The Rays are expected to name a new manager by the end of November.