Sep 26, 2011 11:31 PM ET
The Chicago White Sox released manager Ozzie Guillen from his contract Monday night, clearing the way for him to assume the same job with the Florida Marlins.
The White Sox said in a statement that they have retained the right to receive compensation if Guillen manages elsewhere in 2012 â€” a fait accompli at this point. One major-league source said Guillen is expected to sign a three-year deal with the Marlins.
Guillen has managed the White Sox since 2004 and was under contract with them for next season, which is why the team is entitled to compensation. The source indicated that Chicago will receive at least one player from the Marlins in return.
Guillenâ€™s departure from Chicago became more likely in recent months, as animus continued to fester in his relationship with general manager Kenny Williams.
The Marlins conducted three managerial interviews Monday in order to comply with Major League Baseball regulations on considering candidates, the source said. But Guillen has been viewed for some time as the top choice of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who is seeking to generate buzz for his team before moving into a new ballpark next year.
Although it rarely occurs, teams are allowed to â€œtradeâ€� managers for players. It happened as recently as 2002, when Seattle received outfielder Randy Winn from Tampa Bay for Lou Piniella. The trade went into the books as Winn for infielder Antonio Perez, but it was a one-sided deal that served as compensation for the Mariners granting permission to the then-Devil Rays to negotiate with Piniella.
Once Guillenâ€™s contract with the Marlins is finalized, the focus will shift to the search for his successor in Chicago. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who is expected to be heavily involved in choosing the new manager, is said to be an admirer of White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, White Sox player development director Buddy Bell, and St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
Cora is a close confidante of Guillen, which could actually hurt his chances if Reinsdorf is seeking a new direction. Bell, a former big-league manager with Detroit, Colorado, and Kansas City, would seem to be a logical choice if the White Sox decide to rebuild around younger players.
La Russa, who has the most wins among active managers, would be the splashiest hire. His future in St. Louis is uncertain, as there is a mutual option for 2012 written into his current contract.