SAN FRANCISCO -- With Bruce Bochy set to go to Japan on Monday to manage a group of major leaguers in an exhibition tour, the Giants had to move fast to pry him away from the Padres.
That's apparently just what they did. The San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday that discussions late into the night had resulted in a deal between San Francisco and Bochy, who managed the San Diego Padres to first place in the National League West last season.
The Giants scheduled a news conference for Friday to announce the deal. The Mercury News reported that Bochy will receive a contract of at least three years for more than $2 million per season.
Teams are not allowed to make major announcements during the World Series, but the newspaper reported Major League Baseball gave the Giants permission because Bochy is doing the league a favor. He agreed to replace Terry Francona as manager on the Japan tour when the Red Sox manager withdrew due to illness.
Bochy was the only candidate with major league managerial experience, something Giants general manager Brian Sabean said would be preferred. The Mercury News reported that Mets third-base coach Manny Acta, Angels pitching coach Bud Black and Giants bench coach Ron Wotus were the other finalists for the job.
The Giants received permission from the Padres on Wednesday to talk to Bochy, who traveled to the Bay Area earlier Thursday to meet with Sabean and other team officials about becoming Felipe Alou's successor.
"If he's available and that's a reality, we'd have to go forward and interview the man," Giants vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow said earlier Thursday.
Besides travel plans, the deal had to come together quickly because the Giants had only a seven-day window in which to come to agreement with Bochy because he is employed by another team. Bochy, who has one year left on his contract, and Sabean already had an informal conversation about the job.
Multiple calls to Bochy's cell phone went unreturned Thursday. Calls and e-mails to Sabean and Giants' executive vice president Larry Baer on Thursday night were not immediately returned.
Earlier in the day, Padres general manager Kevin Towers already was preparing for Bochy's possible departure.
"We certainly have to do our due diligence to come up with a list of candidates ourselves, a group of people we would probably interview if Bruce ends up leaving," Towers said in a phone interview. "I would imagine we'd know something by the weekend, because it probably would be hard to negotiate with Bruce going to Japan."
Bochy, 51, who just finished his 12th season as the Padres' manager, has guided San Diego to back-to-back NL West titles and is the winningest manager in franchise history. He has spent the last 24 years in the organization, dating to his playing days.
He is due to make $1.9 million in guaranteed money in 2007 and would be San Francisco's most expensive choice among the club's top candidates. But Bochy's experience and familiarity with the division certainly made him an immediate favorite.
Giants first baseman Mark Sweeney, who played for Bochy in San Diego for 3½ seasons, believes his former skipper would be a good fit in San Francisco.
"The one thing it's going to do -- and it's good for our organization -- is if there are potential free agents looking for a manager to play for, Bochy's that guy," Sweeney said. "It would definitely benefit us in getting some free agents who might go elsewhere. I just think that goes a long way in deciding a team. It adds to it that you get a guy who has that credibility and experience."
San Francisco, which has 11 potential free agents including Barry Bonds, did not renew the 71-year-old Alou's contract after the Giants finished their second straight losing season and third in a row out of the playoffs.
Black is expected to interview with the Oakland Athletics about their managerial opening and could become a candidate to replace Bochy.
Bochy's Padres made the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time ever but were eliminated in the first round for the second straight year by the St. Louis Cardinals. San Diego did win a postseason game for the first time since clinching the NL pennant in 1998.
Thoughts? Very surprising.