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A lot of stuff out there today. We are approaching the endgame on the managerial search, Matsuzaka has been posted, and the hot stove stuff is heating up. Things are starting to get really interesting.

Ron Washington of the Oakland A's is set for a follow-up interview on Sunday with Tom Hicks, Jon Daniels, and Thad Levine. Per T.R. Sullivan, John Russell says he has been informed that he is no longer a candidate, and Manny Acta is apparently out of the running, as well.

That leaves Washington, Trey Hillman and Don Wakamatsu, with an announcement expected to come sometime next week, possibly as early as Monday. Hillman is probably my preference among the three, but as I've said before, I don't have a problem with any of the candidates the Rangers have interviewed, and am comfortable with any of the three finalists getting hired.

Evan Grant reports that the Rangers are preparing a bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The bidding expires at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, so I imagine we'll know Wednesday night or Thursday morning whether the Rangers were successful.

Meanwhile, there are allegations of tampering coming out of Japan, with the Newark Star-Ledger reporting that a Japanese newspaper is reporting that at least three teams have attempted to contact Matsuzaka's team to engage in under-the-table negotiations:

Sankei Sports quoted an unnamed Seibu executive making the charge, and he refused to identify the teams. "It is tampering, so I refused to meet them," the executive said.

While the bidding process is sealed, a team could offer inducements other than cash if Seibu agreed to accept only part of the bid, allowing the team to make a larger bid to secure the right to sign Matsuzaka.

With the Mariners dropping out of the running, the Yankees, BoSox, Rangers, Mets, and Cubs are thought to be the top contenders for Matsuzaka, although there's now a rumor floating around that the Yanks won't go above $20 million in the posting bidding.

The more I think about it, the more I'm coming around to the idea that the Rangers may actually be the favorite to end up with Matsuzaka.

As noted in a diary entry yesterday, Jon Heyman has an article up on players who could be dealt this offseason, with Teixeira being the second-most-likely "big name" to be dealt, according to Heyman.

Peter Gammons, meanwhile, has a piece on the ten names most often mentioned as trade fodder, and Mark Teixeira's name is nowhere to be seen. I still think there's a whole lot more smoke than fire to the Teixeira trade talk.

Gammons does list Gary Sheffield and Pat Burrell as guys he expects to be traded...and while I've long expressed an interest in Sheffield, Burrell is someone I'm really warming up to, particularly if, like Bobby Abreu, the Phillies are mainly wanting to just dump him and his salary.

The New York Daily News, New York Post and New York Newsday both list the Rangers as a team that has inquired about Sheffield.

The New York Daily News also has an intriguing little rumor:

Borris says he already has had phone calls from a couple teams about Bonds. Jim Duquette of the Orioles, a team still lurching from its Rafael Palmeiro experience, is the only executive brave enough so far to admit his club might have interest. There also are rumors about Texas and, of course, the Giants; Borris said last night he had begun "preliminary discussions" with them.

Bonds to Texas would definitely go a long way towards solving the Rangers' offensive problems...

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle talks about a Teixeira-for-Tejada trade rumor, which I thought had been put to rest, but apparently still is floating around out there.

And finally, the Houston Chronicle indicates that the Astros are pursuing GMJ. If the Astros do end up snagging him, I'd like to see the Rangers try to pry Wily Tavares away from the Astros...Tavares can't hit, but he is as good defensively in center as anyone in the league.