If Manuel falls through, Valentine not opposed to talking with Mets

If the New York Mets are unable to sign Jerry Manuel to be their manager, Bobby Valentine sounds interested in returning to Queens.

Valentine is currently managing Chiba Lotte in Japan's professional league. He says he is happy there, but Valentine is not opposed to talking with the Mets. In an e-mail message, Valentine was asked: How much interest would you have in returning to manage the Mets?

"I am working for a team that needs me and wants me as their man," Valentine replied. "I love it here, but I am an American and love great challenges. I was in a Met uniform in the '70s, '80s, '90s, 2000, and would love to be there in the next decade."

Mets general manager Omar Minaya is currently negotiating with Manuel to become the full-time manager. The talks, though, have stalled a bit. The Mets are reportedly offering Manuel only a two-year contract, but Manuel reportedly wants a lengthier commitment.

Manuel took over for Willie Randolph in June and led the Mets to a 55-38 finish, but the Mets failed to make the playoffs after having a 3½-game lead in the NL East with 17 games remaining.

As for Valentine, he could be too expensive for the Mets; he reportedly makes $4 million annually managing in Japan, a salary that makes him the second highest-paid manager in professional baseball, behind the Dodgers' Joe Torre. The Mets still have to pay Randolph $2.5 million in 2009, the final season of his contract.

Minaya did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the possibility of talking to Valentine.

Valentine, 58, led the Mets to the World Series in 2000, where they lost to the Yankees in five games. He was fired by the Mets after the 2002 season. After a year working as an analyst for ESPN, he left for Chiba Lotte, which he had managed previously.

In 2005, Valentine led the team to its first Japan Series title in more than three decades.

Andrew Marchand is the managing editor of 1050 ESPN Radio in New York.