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Dodgers narrow managerial search

Former Padres skipper Bud Black, San Diego bench coach Dave Roberts and Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler are among the finalists for Los Angeles' managerial opening. Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers have interviewed nine candidates for their managerial opening and are going to bring back four of them as finalists next week. The four will be: Bud Black, Darin Erstad, Gabe Kapler and Dave Roberts. The rest of the field is no longer in contention, according to sources familiar with the search. Kapler, the Dodgers' director of player development, is still considered the front-runner by many despite his lack of managerial experience and denials from the team of that being the case.

The only candidates with major league managing experience who have been interviewed are Black, Kirk Gibson, Bob Geren and Ron Roenicke. The other candidates interviewed were Erstad, Dave Martinez, Roberts and Tim Wallach.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has the final recommendation to ownership on whom to hire for this position, but he is listening carefully to input from GM Farhan Zaidi, senior VP of baseball operations Josh Byrnes and director of baseball operations Alex Tamin, who have been an integral part of the interview process during the first round.

Friedman and Byrnes both have successful histories of hiring managers with limited major league experience. Friedman hired Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay in 2006, and Maddon has gone on to win 90 games six different times in the first 10 years of his career, highlighted by an American League pennant in 2008. Byrnes made his out-of-the box hire when he selected A.J. Hinch to manage the Diamondbacks in 2009. The decision backfired on Byrnes at the time, but that had more to do with the team Hinch was managing than his skills. He was given a second chance by the Houston Astros this past season and led them to 86 wins and a wild-card berth during his first year. Hinch is expected to finish in the top three for AL Manager of the Year. Byrnes also was part of the administration that hired Terry Francona in Boston and stayed with Bud Black in San Diego despite ownership's wanting him out.

While the Dodgers can’t ignore the opportunity to hire a former NL Manager of the Year like Black, they seem to be leaning toward a candidate without previous major league managerial experience, such as Kapler, Erstad and Roberts. Erstad had a really strong interview.

According to my sources these four are the remaining candidates.