DETROIT -- Even as they interviewed their fourth different candidate Thursday for their managerial opening, the Red Sox have begun preliminary talks with the Toronto Blue Jays regarding compensation should they hire John Farrell.
Farrell, who served as the Red Sox pitching coach from 2007-2010, recently completed his second season as Toronto's manager. He has a year remaining on his contract with Toronto.
A year ago, when the Red Sox approached Blue Jays ownership for permission to speak with Farrell and were told that the Jays wanted pitcher Clay Buchholz in return. That ended talks immediately.
Farrell directed the Blue Jays to an 81-81 record in his first season managing the Jays before the team slipped backward to a 73-89 mark in 2012, four games ahead of the last-place Red Sox.
It's unclear what the Jays' demends might be this time. The fact that Farrell has one year -- and not two, as was the case last fall -- remaining on his contract may reduce the asking price.
Further, there have been reports that some friction has developed between Farrell and Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos
Lastly, the Jays may be coming to the conclusion that Farrell would prefer returning to Boston. This marks the second time in as many years that the Sox have approached the Jays about Farrell and neither time did Farrell -- while repeatedly pointing out that he remains under contract as the manager of the Blue Jays -- do anything to publicly discourage the Red Sox' interest.
One executive with another major league team speculated earlier this month that the Jays -- who, it should be pointed out, have all the leverage in these negotiations -- would ask for "significant'' compensation. The executive identified pitching prospect Matt Barnes, the Red Sox' No. 1 pick from the University of Connecticut in 2011 -- as a logical asking price.
Precdent is difficult to determine. Two of the most recent "manager trades'' in baseball resulted in widly different compensation packages.
In 2011, the Chicago White Sox allowed Ozzie Guillen to leave with a year remaining on his contract and become manager of the Florida Marlins. In return, the White Sox got two minor leaguers generally acknowledged to be two of the Marlins' Top 10 prospects.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays were able to hire Lou Piniella away from the Seattle Mariners in 200x by sending the Mariners outfielder Randy Winn -- a regular outfielder, but hardly an All-Star.
The Sox are Thursday interviewing DeMarlo Hale for their vacancy. He follows Tim Wallach (last Friday), Tony Pena (Monday) and Brad Ausmus (Wednesday) as candidates to receive interviews.
It's clear, however, that Farrell remains the favorite of the field. Moreover, both ownership and Baseball Operations would be satisfied with him, making him the lone consensus choice among the five candidates.