- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

HOUSTON — Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden has had discussions with three clubs about their GM vacancies, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed yesterday.

According to sources, Bowden has been approached by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. All of the discussions have been preliminary, and no offers have been made.

Bowden, whose contract with the Nationals expires Oct.31, was given permission by club president Tony Tavares and Major League Baseball (which still owns the franchise) to talk with any clubs that approach him.

Bowden declined to discuss his job status yesterday.

“The only thing I’ll comment on is the Washington Nationals,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about my personal situation.”

Despite the recent overtures from elsewhere, there is still a chance Bowden will return to the Nationals in 2006, depending on who winds up owning the club.

None of the three widely acknowledged finalists among the competing ownership groups — Fred Malek, the Lerner family and Jeff Smulyan — has said publicly whether Bowden, Tavares or manager Frank Robinson would be retained. Sources said, however, that Bowden has made strong inroads with at least one of the groups and, all things being equal, likely would choose to stay in Washington.

The Diamondbacks have been looking for a permanent general manager since Joe Garagiola Jr. left Aug.7 to become MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations. Bob Gebhard, who finished the season as Arizona’s interim GM, is being considered but is a long shot, with San Diego GM Kevin Towers among the possibilities.

The Phillies might be attractive to Bowden. They fired longtime GM Ed Wade last week but went 89-73 this season and finished one game behind the Houston Astros for the National League wild card. Former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker is considered the favorite for the job.

The Devil Rays long have been one of baseball’s least-successful organizations. New principal owner Stuart Sternberg fired GM Chuck LaMar and other front-office officials last week and is seeking to revamp the franchise.

Bowden’s name also has been linked to the New York Yankees in recent months, but sources said he has not been contacted by them because current GM Brian Cashman remains employed for now.

Hired by MLB last November on an interim basis, Bowden, 44, helped guide Washington to a surprising 81-81 record. He previously spent 10 years as GM of the Cincinnati Reds.

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