Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden is scheduled to meet with the Boston Red Sox to discuss their vacant general manager's position either Wednesday or Thursday, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported from the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., for today's editions.
The Red Sox told both papers that they would interview four candidates, and identified Bowden and Jim Beattie, the former co-general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, while declining to name the other two. Red Sox President Larry Lucchino will be on hand for the interviews.
Bowden, who last month agreed to a six-month extension with the Nationals, has declined to comment on his pursuit of other jobs. He didn't return repeated phone calls yesterday, when the GM meetings began.
Nationals President Tony Tavares is on vacation out of the country and did not return phone calls last night. Tavares said last week that neither of the two teams with GM openings, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Red Sox, had asked him for permission to speak to Bowden. Tavares said he "absolutely" would expect the teams to ask before any formal contact took place.
Last week, Bowden said his desire is to remain in Washington. "I think this will be a model franchise," he said. "I really do."
But the uncertainty of the Nationals' situation could lead him to look for work elsewhere. He spoke with the Arizona Diamondbacks about their opening last month, but Arizona hired former Red Sox assistant Josh Byrnes. Major League Baseball still owns the Nationals and would like to have a sale completed within the next few weeks, and a new ownership group could dismiss Bowden, thus making his situation inherently unstable.
In pursuing players for Washington, Bowden has assured agents that he expects the ownership issue to be resolved soon. But his flirtation with the Diamondbacks and Red Sox is indicative of the insecurity of the position.
Bowden, who served as GM of the Cincinnati Reds for 10 1/2 years, took the Nationals' job just more than a year ago. He made several moves that molded the team that went 81-81 and finished in last place in the National League East during its first season in Washington.
Both Bowden and Beattie have deep connections to New England. Bowden grew up in Weston, Mass., and spent his summers in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Beattie grew up in South Portland, Maine, and went to Dartmouth College. He became GM of the Montreal Expos in 1995 before running the Orioles with Mike Flanagan from 2003 to '05. His contract with the Orioles wasn't renewed last month.
The Red Sox are seeking to fill the vacancy left after Theo Epstein, the 31-year-old architect of the team that won the 2004 World Series, abruptly left his position Oct. 31. Four of Epstein's former underlings are representing Boston at the GM meetings.