St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Longtime major league outfielder Raul Ibanez is one of three finalists for the vacant Tampa Bay Rays managerial position, the team announced Friday.
Ibanez, who just completed his 19th season as a player in 2014, made the cut along with former Seattle Mariners skipper Don Wakamatsu and Cleveland Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash. The Rays plan to make a final decision after the Thanksgiving break.
The Rays interviewed 10 preliminary candidates to be the successor to Joe Maddon, who opted out of his contract shortly after the conclusion of the regular season and was recently named the new manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Among the seven contenders to be eliminated was Dave Martinez, Tampa Bay's bench coach under Maddon over the past seven seasons.
"The decision on Dave Martinez was especially difficult. He's played a key role in our organization's evolution, and he's done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager," said Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. "In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture."
Ibanez is obviously the least experienced of the three from a coaching perspective, having been a player in the majors since 1996. The 42-year-old appeared in 90 games with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Kansas City Royals last season.
Wakamatsu compiled a 127-147 record over two seasons as the Mariners' manager from 2009-10. He served a two-year stint as Toronto's bench coach after being fired by Seattle, and held the same role with the Royals in 2014.
Cash played eight seasons in the majors as a catcher before retiring after the 2011 season. After a year as an advance scout with the Blue Jays, he joined Terry Francona's staff in Cleveland in 2013.