manager, according to sources familiar with ongoing discussions between the clubs.
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond finally spoke with Johnson last night and arranged to interview him tomorrow.
The fact the Orioles have been open to discussing the possibility of compensating the Reds is an indication of the strength of Johnson's candidacy and lends validity to the belief he is the clear-cut favorite to land the job that opened when Johnny Oates was fired Sept. 26.
"I can neither confirm nor deny that," Hemond said when asked about the compensation discussions.
Johnson's contract expires Dec. 31, but he has maintained he was led to believe it expired when the season ended.
Said Reds general manager Jim Bowden: "The intention of the Reds is to retain Davey Johnson and re-sign him. If they hire him, it's an entirely separate issue that's already been predetermined."
The Reds granted the Orioles permission to talk to Johnson last week in this statement issued by Bowden:
"The Cincinnati Reds would like to retain manager Davey Johnson. This past season, Johnson led the Reds to the National League Central championship and was on course to win 94 games. He is under contract to the Reds until Dec. 31, 1994.
"However, Davey Johnson made it clear to the Reds he would like to return to Baltimore where he grew up and won two World Series as a player. Therefore, reluctantly, the Reds have granted permission to the Orioles to talk to Johnson about the managerial situation."
The permission was granted without qualifiers, but did not address the conditions should Johnson be hired before his contract expires.
There is precedent in baseball for a manager being traded for a player. The Pittsburgh Pirates obtained manager Chuck Tanner from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 on Nov. 5, 1976.
A Reds-Orioles deal likely would consist of a minor-league prospect.
Meanwhile, the Orioles interviewed another candidate for their managing vacancy yesterday with the goal in mind of arriving at a group of finalists by week's end.
Buck Rodgers took a break from his Cape Cod vacation yesterday to try to get back to work as he became the sixth candidate interviewed for Oates' old job. St. Louis Cardinals hitting instructor Chris Chambliss is scheduled for an interview today and Orioles dugout coach Don Buford yesterday asked to be considered.
Johnson, who makes his winter home in Florida, made his interest in the job clear last week and sounded almost giddy at the prospect of interviewing for the position.
"I'd be glad to come up there and eat some steamed crabs," he said. "We don't have them down here quite like they do in Baltimore."
That isn't all that's on Johnson's agenda. "I'm a Clancy fan so I hope I get to meet him," Johnson said of Tom Clancy, the best-selling author and minority owner of the Orioles. "I'm a voracious reader and he's never written a bad book as far as I'm concerned."
Rodgers' interest in the job sounds every bit as strong as Johnson's.
Rodgers, who has managed the Milwaukee Brewers, Montreal Expos and California Angels, spent yesterday afternoon telling the Orioles why they should become his fourth club. In a move that startled much of the baseball world, he was fired by the Angels on May 17 after managing them to a 16-23 start.
"I've had enough vacation," Rodgers said. "I felt like now is the time I would like to get back in the game in the proper situation."
Managing the Orioles qualifies as the proper situation, according to Rodgers.
"I think they've got some very good talent," he said. "It's a good organization, and I'm very honored to be considered."
bTC Buford, like Johnson a former Orioles player, and a minor-league manager in their system in 1992 and 1993, would like to be considered.
"I would be an upbeat manager who will do whatever he can to win ballgames," Buford said. "I think my total background is a plus, too. I have experience on the managerial side, the [minor-league] coordinating side, and as a coach."
Said Hemond: "He indicated some interest and I told him I'd get back to him. We're hearing from a number of other possible entries, but we won't interview everyone who has applied. That would be impossible."
Like Chambliss, Buford contacted the Orioles before they had a chance to contact him.
Chambliss interviewed yesterday for the Kansas City Royals' managing vacancy, a job for which Chicago Cubs coach Tony Muser -- another former Oriole -- is considered the favorite.
Last week, the Orioles interviewed Rick Dempsey, Davey Lopes, Bill Virdon, Phil Regan and Elrod Hendricks.