BOSTON -- If there is one thing the Red Sox lacked in their first round of managerial candidates, it was a big name. But as the club appears poised to expand the search, one very prominent candidate could emerge.
That is Bobby Valentine, the former manager of the Rangers and Mets, whose most recent managerial experience was in Japan.
Valentine spent the past two seasons as a well-respected baseball analyst for ESPN.
High-level executives from the Red Sox have already spoken with Valentine in recent days or weeks, according to a Major League source. At least to this point, no interview had been set up. But that could be just a matter of time.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington left baseball's General Managers Meetings on Thursday for a brief scouting and administrative trip to the Dominican Republic. Cherington said the club would take a short breather from the search for a new manager during that time, but added that a new candidate could be identified by the beginning of next week or this weekend at the earliest.
The search for Terry Francona's successor -- after the manager left the club on Sept. 30 -- has been an exhaustive one.
The first candidate the Sox interviewed was Pete Mackanin, but he was eliminated from consideration earlier this week. Dale Sveum interviewed twice for the post, including a follow-up with Cherington and the team's ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
But just hours after that lunch, the Cubs offered Sveum their managerial position, and he will be unveiled at Wrigley Field on Friday morning.
That leaves Blue Jays first-base coach Torey Lovullo, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont still alive from the first batch of candidates. Lovullo's interview was highly impressive, according to multiple club sources, and he could also be in line for a second meeting that would include ownership.
Adding Valentine to the mix would certainly spice things up. He has an engaging personality which has been on display to ESPN viewers the past couple of years.
Valentine has always been known as a strong tactician with great baseball intellect. He has also never been shy about expressing his opinions, which led to a fair share of controversy during previous managerial stints, particularly in New York.
In 15 years as a Major League manager, Valentine posted a record of 1,117-1,072. He managed the Rangers from 1985-92 and the Mets from 1996-2002.
The Mets advanced to the National League Championship Series under Valentine in 1999 and to the World Series in 2000, when they lost to the Yankees.
It was Wednesday night when Lucchino and Cherington both acknowledged the possibility that the Red Sox could spread their wings and seek out some other candidates.
"I'm not dissatisfied with the candidates we have," Cherington said Wednesday night. "It's just we feel like there are some unique circumstances here. This is not just any manager's job. This is one where we do feel we're ready to win, and there are challenges related to what happened last year and just generally in the Boston market, as you guys know. I've been very happy with the candidates, and our next manager could very well come from those candidates, but we're not ruling out adding to that field.
"I think we've learned a lot through the interview process -- we've learned a lot as we've sort of asked each other questions, both within baseball operations and with ownership, about what is it really that we need right now for this team?
"So through that process, it's sort of, I think, forced all of us to consider whether the current group, whether we're sort of looking at this in a broad enough way to really make the right decision. Our manager may very well come from the group of candidates that we've already interviewed. At this point, we may not limit ourselves to that."
Boston's first batch of candidates lacked managerial experience at the Major League level, aside from Lamont. Valentine has plenty of that and is no stranger to the exposure of a big market.
While Cherington originally wanted to have a manager in place by Thanksgiving, he acknowledged it could take a little longer.
Lucchino and Henry also emphasized at the GM/Owners Meetings in Milwaukee that it was far more important to find the right manager than to have one in place by a certain day.