Source: Bobby Valentine a candidate

MILWAUKEE -- The Boston Red Sox have reached out to former big league manager and current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, a source close to Valentine said, and the two sides will meet to discuss the team's managerial vacancy before the end of the week.

The news of Valentine's entry into the managerial derby comes just hours after the Chicago Cubs hired one-time candidate Dale Sveum, who was the only person to get a second interview with the Red Sox's brass.

"We're not dissatisfied with the candidates we have,'' Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Wednesday. "We feel like these are unique circumstances here. ... We're very happy with the candidates. Our next manager could very well come from among those candidates, but we're not ruling out adding candidates."

If the Red Sox are going to meet with Valentine before the end of the week, the meeting seemingly will take place without Cherington. He told reporters before leaving the GM meetings Thursday that the search would "take a little breather this weekend" while he went to the Dominican Republic to talk to the staff and scout Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The 61-year-old Valentine appeared at an event in early November with Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino in Hartford, Conn., where both men denied they had discussed the job.

"He's a great man and a great manager and he has a colorful and successful history, so his name inevitably comes up in this day and age," Lucchino said.

Valentine sidestepped the issue.

"I have a great job, and I wouldn't insult my employers by saying I'm interested in another job," Valentine said. "I have two more years on my contract with ESPN and I'm very thankful for that."

One common thread among four of the five initial candidates -- Sveum, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Blue Jays first-base coach Torey Lovullo -- is that they all have very limited, if any, big league managerial experience. The one exception was Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont, who managed for parts of eight seasons.

Valentine comes with considerably more experience. He managed in the majors for 15 seasons with the Texas Rangers (1985 to 1992) and New York Mets (1996 to 2002). Though he never won a division title, he did reach one World Series, with the Mets in 2000.

The charismatic Valentine, who once was suspended for appearing in the Mets' dugout in a disguise after getting thrown out of a game, also had two stints managing in Japan that spanned six seasons.

Cherington previously had set a tentative deadline to hire a manager by Thanksgiving, but on Wednesday he acknowledged they were "bumping up against" the deadline.

"At this point we may stretch past it," he said.

During the search process, Cherington said, the Red Sox have been forced to ask themselves: "What is it that we really need right now? Through that process, it has forced all of us to consider whether we're looking at this in a broad enough way to really make the right decision. Again, our manager may very well come from the group of candidates we brought in, but at this point, we do not have to limit ourselves.''

On Thursday, Lucchino said it was never the team's intent to close the list of candidates before a manager was hired.

"It has always been intended to be open, aggressive and full of due diligence until the point that there is a final decision made. That's really where we are," Lucchino told WEEI.com. "It's fair to say that the media assumed a more linear pattern for this process than we ever assumed. We have always felt that we would cast a wide net, that we would interview people in different times and places depending on all the factors, and that we would be open in doing due diligence up to the very moment that we made a decision because it is a very important decision."

Among the remaining four candidates, only Mackanin has been ruled out.

Lucchino also said the Red Sox search was and will continue to be a "collective process" between the baseball operations team and the front office.

"Ownership has a seat at the table, to be sure," Lucchino told WEEI.com. "That's the way we've been running the franchise for years and will continue to run the franchise. That's the form of governance we are most comfortable with. If you look back on our track record, you can see that it's worked relatively well."

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.