The headline might lead you to believe that the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays are close to figuring out how to get manager John Farrell over to Boston. That's not the case, though; at least, that's not how it seems to be. Talks are more preliminary than that. It's more like the Red Sox are just checking in on Farrell to see if there's any way they can reasonably bring him to Boston, and if not, well, that's why they are set to conduct their fourth manager interview today:
Ben Cherington has nobody scheduled to interview after Demarlo Hale tomorrow. The Sox trying to work out compensation for John Farrell.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) October 17, 2012
"Tomorrow" in that tweet is today, Thursday. If the Red Sox had a simple way to get John Farrell to leave Toronto and come to Boston, he'd likely already be here. But the longer this goes on, the less likely it is he ends up as manager of the Red Sox. Again, though, that's why Tim Wallach, Tony Pena, Brad Ausmus, and now DeMarlo Hale are being talked to. The Red Sox are not left waiting for Farrell, but he is their primary choice. Talking to the Jays about how to acquire him -- something the Jays once again do not seem keen on, given their near-silence on the issue -- in the interim makes sense.
The question is more about how long the Sox will talk to the Jays before picking from one of the four candidates interviewed. The whole manager process is supposed to go quickly -- general manager Ben Cherington has already said he wants it to be that way -- and the rest of the off-season should start to fall into place once there is a manager around. One would think that, if the Jays continue to expect more than Boston wants to pay for Farrell, that one of the other four will be named manager quickly, in order to allow the Red Sox to move to the next item on the agenda.
Just what the Jays expect is something of a secret. A "decent" player is about as vague a term as you can throw out there, especially since what the Red Sox consider decent and what the Jays consider decent could be two entirely different things.* The good news is that, even if Boston prefers Farrell over anyone else, that doesn't make everyone else they have interviewed pointless, or unnecessary. It means the Red Sox don't need Farrell just as much as the Jays don't need to give him up.
*Alex Anthopoulos: "Right, a decent player... I mean, that uh, Bogurt guy? What's his name? Oh, Bog-aerts. He seems like he might be okay, I guess. Maybe I'm shortchanging my team here. Toss in that reliever Barnes and we've got a deal."
Now, just what is too much for Farrell is something that Red Sox fans are unsure of as well. One thing to remember, though: Boston's 40-man is overcrowded, and future off-seasons are not going to be any less so thanks to a suddenly stuffed farm system. If they give up a decent prospect (there's that word again), or ship the broken version of Daniel Bard north in exchange for Farrell, they might not miss them as much as one would think, and Boston would have the man they think can run the team. Considering how much of a disaster the short-lived Bobby Valentine era was, the price of admission for Farrell could very well be worth it if he's half as fit for the gig as Boston thinks he is.
Unless, of course, that price involves any prospect whose last name begins with "B" and doesn't end with "ritton." But that seems like the moment where Boston says thanks for playing and calls back one of the four interviewees.
Remember, a significant part of a manager's job involves relationships, and the ability to build new ones. The Red Sox players might not be as familiar with Farrell as they once were, but the front office knows him. Again, after Valentine, that's a positive, and if the price is right, this could be worth it. Hopefully either way, this isn't a story for very long.