The Associated Press
Lou Piniella has agreed to a $13 million, four-year contract to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Thursday night.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity. Neither Piniella nor his agent, Alan Nero, returned telephone messages. The agreement was first reported by Newsday.
The team is under orders from commissioner Bud Selig to be silent about any deals until the World Series ends.
The agreement would give Piniella an increase over the $2.5 million he was scheduled to earn next season during his final year with the Seattle Mariners.
The Tampa Tribune said Piniella will meet Sunday with Devil Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli and general manager Chuck LaMar to finalize details on the contract. It would make Piniella the second-highest paid manager in the majors behind the New York Yankees' Joe Torre, who makes $5 million.
"I've had three nice meetings with the Tampa Bay people, and they've been good, productive meetings," Piniella told The Tribune. "I've gotten a chance to look at their organization, and at the same time talk to Chuck and Vince about how they perceive things. I've come away satisfied that this organization wants to win and get things on track."
METS: Blocked from pursuing Piniella and unsure that Dusty Baker would be interested, the New York Mets turned to Art Howe as their new manager.
A baseball source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to The Associated Press that Howe has agreed to a four-year, $9.4 million contract. The move will be announced formally next week, after the World Series.
Howe guided Oakland to this season's AL West title and three straight playoff appearances.
After five years in Houston, Howe joined the Athletics before the 1996 season and is the third-winningest manager in franchise history. His team won 103 games this season but lost a five-game playoff to Minnesota, the third straight year Oakland has been eliminated in the first round.
RED SOX: Jim Duquette, assistant general manager of the New York Mets, met with Boston president Larry Lucchino to interview for the team's general manager's job.
"Jim Duquette did indeed interview with Larry Lucchino, and he said the interview went very well," Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said.
Leland Maddox, Cincinnati's director of player personnel, also interviewed with Boston, according to Reds spokesman Rob Butcher.
Duquette is the cousin of former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, fired during spring training by the team's new ownership after eight years on the job.
INDIANS: Eric Wedge, the manager of Cleveland's Triple-A farm team in Buffalo, interviewed for the Indians' major-league opening.
Wedge is 34 and would be the youngest manager in the majors if he gets the job.
Joel Skinner, Cleveland's interim manager for the final 76 games this season after Charlie Manuel was fired, interviewed Wednesday.
Fredi Gonzalez, manager at Atlanta's Triple-A Richmond, will interview today.
AARON AWARDS: Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez won the Hank Aaron Award for the second consecutive year, with broadcasters voting them the best hitters in their leagues this season.
Wedge, who played in 39 games as a major leaguer for Boston and Colorado, also has managed Cleveland farm clubs in Columbus, Ga., Kinston, N.C., and Akron.
PIRATES: Pittsburgh hired former major leaguer Rusty Kuntz as its first-base coach.
Kuntz, a former coach with the Seattle Mariners and Florida Marlins, succeeds Tommy Sandt, whose contract wasn't renewed.
Kuntz played 277 games with the Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers. He hit the game-winning sacrifice fly in the last game of the 1984 World Series for Detroit.
He spent the last two months of this season as a roving instructor with Atlanta after working for the Marlins in various jobs for nine years.
Kuntz also will be the Pirates' outfield and base-running instructor.
Meanwhile, Trent Jewett will return as manager at Triple-A Nashville, a job he held for three seasons before becoming the Pirates' third base coach in 2000.
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