SEATTLE (AP) -- Lou Piniella wants to stay home. The Seattle Mariners are giving him that chance.
The Mariners gave their former manager permission Friday to talk to his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays, while negotiations with the New York Mets dragged on.
"When Lou spoke to us last week, he told us he wanted to be closer to home and closer to his family," Seattle general manager Pat Gillick said after the team reached a deal with the Devil Rays on compensation for Piniella. "I don't think anyone can disagree that we've now got him as close to home as possible."
The Mariners agreed this week to release Piniella from the final year of his three-year contract. The team said it would allow him to negotiate with other teams, provided they agreed to appropriate compensation if they sign him.
The Mariners and Mets, without a manager after firing Bobby Valentine, are still trying to work out a deal.
Newsday said Saturday that the Mets provided two lists of prospects to Seattle and gave the Mariners the option of selecting one player from each list as compensation.
The New York Daily News said Friday the Mariners are trying to clear salary by sending third baseman Jeff Cirillo to New York as part of a deal. Cirillo has $22.5 million left on the final three years of his contract.
The Mariners wouldn't say what players and how much money they would get from Tampa Bay.
"I will not comment on anything," Gillick said from Peoria, Ariz., where the team is holding organizational meetings. "All I will say is Tampa Bay stepped up and they were very aggressive. They were the first out of the chute for Lou."
Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar also declined to discuss the compensation, citing a confidentiality clause.
LaMar spent much of Friday interviewing Oakland bench coach Ken Macha, but conceded that gaining permission to talk to Piniella had pushed the Tampa native to the top of his wish list.
"He's a winner. He was a winner as a player. He's a proven winner as a major league manager. ... I believe in my heart he is the right man for the job," LaMar said.
Gillick said there wasn't any timetable for the Devil Rays to hire Piniella.
"We're not setting a 48- or 72-hour time limit on it," he said. "We want to give Lou as much time as possible."
LaMar said he wasn't sure when negotiations would start, or how a ban on major announcements during the World Series would apply if the Devil Rays are able to hire Piniella.
"There have been exceptions," he said, adding that Tampa Bay would do whatever commissioner Bud Selig asked.
Selig has asked teams to refrain from making major announcements during the World Series, preferring to keep attention focused on baseball's championship. Game 1 is Saturday.
Lee Pelekoudas, vice president of baseball administration for the Mariners, talked to Piniella on Friday. He said Piniella was trying to stay patient, but he understood it was hard.
"Lou wanted to get the process moving," Pelekoudas said. "He'd like to get in the mix."
Gillick said one other team, which he hasn't identified, also is talking to the Mariners. He said a fourth team, which he also did not identify, has dropped out.
"We have been portrayed as unreasonable," Gillick said. "We're trying to be reasonable. We're trying to move this process along. We want to be evenhanded with everyone. We hope to provide Lou with more options than just Tampa."
Whether the ultra-competitive Piniella would be happy managing Tampa Bay remains to be seen. The Devil Rays lost 106 games last season, becoming the first team to post consecutive 100-loss seasons since Toronto in 1978 and 1979.
And, although Piniella is winding down a managerial career that began with the New York Yankees in 1986, he is used to success.
He managed the Cincinnati Reds to a World Series sweep over Oakland in 1990. He also guided the Mariners into the playoffs four times in his 10 years in Seattle, including the AL championship series three times.
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