- Associated Press - Saturday, September 18, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - From the Bronx to Chavez Ravine, from Lake Michigan north to Toronto, managers across the majors could be on the move this winter.

Free agency for skippers? That very well might be the case in what is shaping up to be a busy offseason of switcheroos for the men who write the lineups and make their home on that top dugout step.

“It looks that way,” said outgoing Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who announced Friday he will retire after the season. “There have been an awful lot of changes, and changes you really didn’t anticipate.”

There could be managerial openings on a third of the clubs this offseason. Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, Tony La Russa, Ozzie Guillen, Jerry Manuel and other big names are managing over the season’s final weeks with their futures uncertain _ though some likely will stay put.

While 14 skippers were in the final year of their contracts this year, Oakland’s Bob Geren already had his club option exercised for 2011. And Ron Washington of the AL West-leading Rangers has been told by the Texas brass he’ll be back.

Second-year Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha recently met with general manager Doug Melvin, but has no idea if he will return to the Brewers in 2011. Macha points to a “reluctance” by teams to sign managers to long-term contracts.

More experienced managers command hefty paychecks, too. Continuity is no longer a top priority for bosses around the league, as some teams search for a quick fix to win right now.

“I think over the 18 years our ownership group has been here, as the stakes have increased in the sport _ however you want to define that, average salaries, whatever _ the scrutiny of managers has increased pretty dramatically,” San Francisco Giants team president Larry Baer said. “From a front-office perspective, you’re constantly evaluating and from the perspective of the manager, say a manager who could be in demand, he’s constantly evaluating where he might go. There might be a better situation.”

Bruce Bochy is doing fine managing the Giants _ in his fourth season, he had them in the NL West lead on Saturday.

Lou Piniella retired from the Cubs last month, and Bobby Cox of the Braves and the Blue Jays’ Cito Gaston plan to do the same after the season. The 65-year-old La Russa’s contract is up.

“There’s going to be a lot of movement in the managerial ranks this year _ more than just myself, Cito, Lou and Joe _ from what I understand,” Cox said Saturday. “It’ll be interesting to see how it falls into place. But on the other side, it’s sad to get, you know _ some of these guys are going to be fired. You hate to see that. It’s not always their fault at all. But, you know, everybody wants to make changes and they do.”

Torre is 70 and while he still loves it, he realizes he wasn’t able to get through to his players and correct problems this season the way he used to. He got a fresh start and found success with the Dodgers after more than a decade of pressure-packed days with the Yankees.

“I know Lou has been hinting about this and Bobby announced it and I’ve been sort of holding everybody hostage,” Torre said. “Some of the other changes I think surprised a lot of people. It will be interesting to see who lands where.”

Torre and Cox have talked repeatedly about moving on from managing _ and how hard that choice is, or actually following through with it.

“It’s tough to get out of your system,” said Torre, who hasn’t ruled out managing again.

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