The Boston Red Sox no longer have competition in their search for a new manager.
The Houston Astros are set to hire Dusty Baker as their next manager, USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale reported Tuesday. Baker takes over for A.J. Hinch, whom Houston fired after he was suspended one year in the wake of the team's sign-stealing scandal.
Once Baker is hired, the Red Sox will be the only team without a manager: The New York Mets needed just six days to replace Carlos Beltran with bench coach Luis Rojas after parting ways with the ex-Astros outfielder, while Houston took just over two weeks to land Baker, one of the most well-respected managers in baseball.
That's both good news and bad news for Boston. The good news, of course, is that Chaim Bloom and Co. now have their pick of the litter if they want to hire an external candidate to replace Alex Cora.
Veteran managers like John Gibbons, Buck Showalter and Brad Ausmus all are available, as are free-agent options such as Raul Ibanez, Mike Lowell, Mark Loretta and Craig Breslow.
The Red Sox also could look internally, as NBC Sports Boston's John Tomase recently listed bench coach Ron Roenicke, third base coach Carlos Febles and special assistant Jason Varitek as the three leading in-house candidates.
Boston no longer has to worry about the Astros or Mets poaching any of their top choices.
The bad news? The Sox officially are behind the eight ball.
Boston reportedly is "unlikely" to hire a manager before next week, as the club still is waiting for Major League Baseball to complete its investigation into 2018 sign-stealing allegations.
Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Tuesday, Feb. 11. If Boston hires a new manager by next Monday or Tuesday -- which currently seems like a best-case scenario -- that manager would have just one week to get caught up to speed before players arrive.