Seattle close to wrapping up GM search

Updated: November 6, 2003, 8:46 PM ET

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners are close to completing their five-week search for a new general manager, and a successor to Pat Gillick could be named by this weekend.

Team president Chuck Armstrong declined comment on the search Thursday and refused to confirm potential candidates, but he acknowledged there's an increasing need to wrap up the search.

Eligible players face a Sunday deadline to file for free agency, and baseball's GM meetings begin Monday in Phoenix. Gillick indicated this week that the team hoped to fill the job before the meetings open.

"It's getting awfully close," Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln told The Seattle Times.

The Mariners have identified only two internal candidates: Benny Looper, vice president of player development, and assistant GM Lee Pelekoudas.

Gillick announced Sept. 30 he was stepping down after four seasons in which the Mariners won 393 games -- more than any other team in the majors.

The Mariners won 116 games in 2001, tying an AL record, but missed the playoffs the past two seasons despite winning 93 games each year. Gillick said it was time to let someone else try to reach the World Series.

Among the outside candidates known to have interviewed were Montreal Expos GM Omar Minaya; former Angels GM Mike Port, currently Boston's vice president of baseball operations; Dodgers director of player development Bill Bavasi; and Detroit assistant GM Al Avila.

The Mariners asked for permission to interview New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Oakland GM Billy Beane but were denied in both instances.

The Times on Thursday identified Looper, Avila and Bavasi as finalists. Armstrong wouldn't confirm or deny the report.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index