The Red Sox officially dumped manager Terry Tito Francona last week after eight seasons at the helm due to the team's disastrous collapse that left the Red Sox out of this year's playoffs.
Francona guided the team to two World Series titles in his team in Boston -- the team's first in 86 years -- but the worst regular season collapse in baseball history led to the team refusing to pick up his two-year option.
With Francona out of the picture, the Red Sox now must find a worthy replacement. Here are a few possible candidates to replace Francona in Boston.
Bruce Bochy, Manager, San Francisco Giants
Bochy is another name Olney floated as a possible good fit for the Red Sox. Olney reported that Bochy, who guided the Giants to a World Series title in 2010, doesn't have a long-term contract with San Francisco and would be a perfect fit in Boston. Bochy's entire managerial career has been out West with the Giants and San Diego Padres so it's unknown whether he'd be willing to move East for the Red Sox, but Bochy would be a big name hire that could do wonders to motivate the Red Sox fan base.
Bobby Valentine, ESPN commentator
Valentine's name frequently comes up in manager search stories, but this one actually makes sense. Francona, a player's manager, lost the clubhouse at the end of the season -- especially given the story on pitchers drinking beers on their off-days -- which could lead Epstein to turn to more of a disciplinarian like Valentine. Valentine has turned down interest from a bunch of ball clubs over the years, but this one could finally get him out of his comfy seat as an ESPN commentator.
Dave Martinez, Bench Coach, Tampa Bay Rays
Martinez, Joe Maddon's trusted deputy in Tampa, has emerged as a hot manager candidate this October. Some have speculated that Martinez might be the early frontrunner for the Chicago White Sox managerial job. Martinez would likely be a great choice for the Red Sox, but he's a former White Sox and his son currently is a freshman at Northwestern University -- meaning a return to Chicago could be preferred. One factor to keep an eye on with Martinez is how long the Rays stay in the playoffs and whether Epstein decides to jump ship to the Chicago Cubs general manager job, as some have speculated.
DeMarlo Hale, Bench Coach, Boston Red Sox
Hale would be a logical choice for the Red Sox as he understands the team's culture, but might not be the sexy hire that the Red Sox Nation craves. The lack of star power plus the fact that Hale was a part of such a devastating collapse by the Red Sox in the month of September could doom his chances. Hale could ultimately be a backup candidate if Theo Epstein is unable to get someone off the top of his wish list.
Joe Torre, VP of Baseball Operations for MLB
Torre's name has begun floating around as a possible candidate for the Red Sox opening. Torre, the former Yankees and Dodgers manager, could be a good fit at dealing with the intense pressure and expectations that come with being the Red Sox manager, but does the 71-year old really want to deal with that again? Torre didn't fare quite as well in Los Angeles as he did in New York, but still could whip the Red Sox into shape. Plus, what better way to anger Yankee fans than hire one of the team's most beloved former managers?
Pete Mackanin, Bench Coach, Philadelphia Phillies
ESPN's Buster Olney reported over the weekend that Mackanin could be a good fit for the Red Sox and it certainly makes sense. Mackanin, 60, has done a good job with as Charlie Manuel's lieutenant in Philadelphia and deserves a chance to manage a big-time club. Similar to Hale, Mackanin doesn't quite have the sexy name appeal of some other potential candidates, but neither did Francona when Epstein hired him. Mackanin is probably an under the radar candidate, but could be a factor in some of the job openings this off-season.
Trey Hillman, Bench Coach, Los Angeles Dodgers
The former Royals manager is bound to get another opportunity to manage a squad and could be the right fit for Boston. Hillman wasn't given many resources in Kansas City and was ultimately fired in 2010, but managed to guide the team to a respectable 75-87 record in 2008. Hillman, 48, is known as one of the bright guys in baseball and could provide a nice change of pace in Boston from the old Francona regime. If Boston doesn't snatch Hillman up, someone will in the next year or two.