ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays reached a compensation agreement with Seattle on Friday, enabling them to begin negotiating with Lou Piniella, the Mariners' manager for the last 10 years.
A Tampa native, Piniella announced last Monday that he was leaving the Mariners because he wants to manage closer to home. Since he has a year remaining on his contract with Seattle, the Mariners are entitled to compensation if Piniella manages elsewhere in 2003.
Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar declined to discuss the compensation package for Piniella, citing a confidentiality clause in the agreement with the Mariners.
LaMar interviewed Oakland Athletics bench coach Ken Macha on Friday, but admitted that Piniella is probably at the top of the team's wish list.
"He was a winner as a player and is a proven winner as a major league manager" LaMar said of Piniella. "I believe in my heart he is the right man for the job. Lou will know how much we'd like him to be our manager."
Piniella, 59, who has three grown children, graduated from high school in Tampa and attended the University of Tampa.
However, the New York Post is reporting that the New York Mets believe they will come up with a compensation package acceptable to the Mariners, who have so far rebuffed New York's offers for the right to speak to Piniella.
Commissioner Bud Selig has asked teams to refrain from making major announcements during the World Series.
Piniella guided the Mariners to an American League-record 116 wins in 2001 and was rewarded with AL Manager of the Year honors. But Seattle fell six games shy of the playoffs this season and Piniella reportedly was upset that the team did not make more midseason moves.
The most successful manager in team history, Piniella guided the Mariners to three straight playoff
appearances and four in the last eight years.
Under Piniella, Seattle went 840-711 and reached the ALCS in 2000 and 2001. Piniella has a career managerial mark of 1,319-1,135 and guided the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series title in 1990.