Washington meets with owner Hicks

Washington meets with owner Hicks

ARLINGTON -- The interview process is complete.

The Rangers now have to decide who their next manager will be.

More to the point, the Rangers have to decide if any of their outside candidates would be better than Don Wakamatsu, their bench coach for the past four years who has been the favorite since the process began a month ago.

If not, Wakamatsu could be named the 17th full-time manager in club history in the next couple of days and replace Buck Showalter, who was let go at the end of the season.

But Oakland third-base coach Ron Washington and Nippon Ham Fighters manager Trey Hillman may have given the Rangers something to think about.

Washington brought the process to an end by meeting with Rangers owner Tom Hicks on Sunday. He had previously interviewed with general manager Jon Daniels and assistant Thad Levine.

Washington has been "very impressive" in the process, according to sources.

"There's not much I can say right now," Daniels said Sunday night. "I expect resolution early this week."

Wakamatsu and Hillman, who managed the Fighters to the Japan Series championship, also have already interviewed with both Daniels and Hicks. Mets third-base coach Manny Acta and Phillies Triple-A manager John Russell did not meet with Hicks and are out of the running.

Wakamatsu was the leading candidate from the beginning because of a close relationship with Daniels and a familiarity with the ballclub.

Wakamatsu has four years of Minor League managerial experience in 1997-2000 in the Diamondbacks and Angels organizations. He was Manager of the Year in the California League in 1998. He spent 2001-2002 as the Minor League coordinator for the Angels before joining Showalter's staff in 2003.

Hillman has an offer to return to the Fighters at a salary of over $1 million, and that's likely to be much more than the Rangers can afford. Hillman also has interviewed with the San Diego Padres and the Oakland Athletics.

Washington also has interviewed with the Athletics for their managerial opening. He has been on their coaching staff for 11 years and managed two years in the Minor Leagues before that.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.