Imagine if Joe Girardi had elected to leave the New York Yankees for the Chicago Cubs, or even for the broadcast booth. Given everything else that has happened since the end of the season, managerial pandemonium would have broken out by now. Mobs of front-office executives would be breaking the glass of the Rays’ storefront to loot the coaching staff. Madness.

Jim Leyland is the latest high-profile skipper, in a high-profile job, to vacate his position. Right now, the Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Leyland’s Detroit Tigers, the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals all have the top step of the dugout empty, awaiting a new arrival. Chicago, Cincinnati and Seattle got here by firing their imcumbents. Washington and Detroit have been left to fend for themselves by aged and famous helmsmen.

Dusty Baker is the only name, of the men who once filled those jobs, with any chance of returning with one of the other clubs anytime soon. Nor will there be, as there have been in recent offseasons, compensated deals whereby one team will snag another’s in-house skipper. There’s also no Terry Francona out there, an obvious and experienced manager who just happens to be unattached at the moment.

This will be an all-out race to find the next great manager, not a bidding war for the last one. The big names of the last generation in baseball dugouts—Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson, now Leyland—are retired, and unafraid to tell you so. The Detroit vacancy makes three for teams with very real aspirations and very high expectations for 2014, along with the Reds and Nationals. The Cubs and Mariners, meanwhile, have very strong collections of young talent and expect to contend very soon.

I did a (partially tongue-in-cheek) rundown of candidates for the Cubs job not long ago, but truth be told, we won’t know who’s a real candidate or who’s a good candidate until things start to materialize more, and that may not happen until after the World Series. In the meantime, it’s an interesting time of upheaval for some teams that need to move quickly past any off-field uncertainty.

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