Two of the three finalists to replace Joe Maddon as Tampa Bay’s manager have deep Mariners ties: Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu.
The Rays identified Cleveland bullpen coach Kevin Cash as the other finalist Friday in a trimming a field of 10 candidates.
The job became open when Maddon exercised a departure clause in his contract after the season and subsequently agreed to a five-year deal to manage the Chicago Cubs.
Ibanez and Wakamatsu each finished this season with Kansas City — Ibanez as a player in his 19th season, and Wakamatsu as the bench coach to Royals manager Ned Yost.
The Rays announced plans for a final round of interviews in early December.
Wakamatsu, 51, is the only finalist with previous managerial experience: He was hired Nov. 19, 2008 by the Mariners and guided the club to an 85-77 record in 2009.
That represented a 24-game improvement over the previous season.
But the Mariners slipped badly the following season; they were 42-70 when they fired Wakamatsu on Aug. 9, 2010.
Ibanez, 42, spent three tours with the Mariners: 1996-2000, 2004-08 and 2013. He was the organization’s 36th-round pick in 1992
Cash, 36, is a former big-league catcher who concluded an eight-year playing career in 2010
ANOTHER OPTION FOR HULTZEN
The Mariners gained another option year on left-hander Danny Hultzen, who missed this season while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Players are eligible for a fourth option year in cases when they have been optioned in three seasons but have not yet logged five full professional seasons.
Full seasons are defined as one in which a player was on an active roster for at least 90 days.
Hultzen, 24, was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. He was 14-8 with a 2.82 ERA in 32 starts over parts of two seasons before shoulder problems surfaced in 2013.
He missed much of that season before undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum.
Hultzen threw three times in September workouts in the Instructional League and is expected to be fully recovered in time for spring training, but club officials acknowledge his workload will be limited next season.
Two players who became free agents after spending the past season at Triple-A Tacoma signed minor-league deals with other organizations.
Outfielder Xavier Avery's deal with Detroit includes an invitation to big-league camp, while right-handed reliever Logan Kensing signed with the Chicago White Sox.
Avery, 24, played all three outfield positions for the Rainiers and batted .275 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 120 games. He was sent to Tacoma on an outright assignment on April 2 after clearing waivers.
The Mariners acquired Avery, who bats and throws left-handed, from Baltimore in an Aug. 30, 2013 trade for outfielder Michael Morse.
Avery’s only big-league experience came in 2012, when he batted .223 for the Orioles with one homer and six RBIs in 94 at-bats over 32 games.
Kensing, 32, was 6-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 49 appearances after signing a minor-league deal last January with the Mariners as a free agent.
The Mariners reassigned Kensing to Tacoma on March 11.
Kensing was 8-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 135 games while spending parts of seven seasons in the majors from 2004-13 with Florida, Washington and Colorado.
Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez continues to send a forget-me-not to the Mariners from Venezuela.
Ramirez pitched six scoreless innings Thursday for Lara in a 5-0 victory over Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. He allowed four hits and no walks while striking out six.
That makes 18 innings by Ramirez over three starts without allowing an earned run. He has allowed two unearned runs and nine hits while walking three and striking out 14.
Ramirez, 24, split the past season between the Mariners and Tacoma. He was 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 17 big-league games, including 14 starts.
The Mariners face a spring decision with Ramirez, who is out of options and can’t be sent back to the minors without clearing waivers.
*Outfielder Endy Chavez, now a free agent, began his winter season Thursday by going 3-for-5 for Magallanes in a 12-3 loss to Caracas in Venezuela.
Chavez, 36, opened last season at Tacoma but joined the Mariners on May 30. Thereafter, he batted .276 with two homers and 23 RBIs in 80 games.