SAN DIEGO — Jim Tracy will learn by Tuesday whether he will continue to be manager of the Dodgers, highly placed sources said Friday, meaning he will not have an opportunity to exercise his seven-day opt-out clause.
Tracy, who is in his fifth season, either will be offered a contract extension or be fired. The only room for compromise would be the length of a new deal.
He has requested a two-year extension that would give him security through 2008. The Dodgers are mulling whether to offer a one-year extension. But if an agreement can't be reached in the next few days, the Dodgers would fire him and pay his 2006 base salary of $700,000 if he doesn't find another job.
Neither Tracy nor General Manager Paul DePodesta would comment on the negotiations. But DePodesta did say it was a very difficult decision.
"We are trying to think through everything dutifully," he said. "It's not as easy as asking, 'Do you like him?'
"Each possible outcome triggers a chain of events. We are being prudent and thinking them through."
Tracy's current two-year contract contains language that would allow him to opt out of the last year within seven days of the end of the season. The clause would have provided leverage in gaining an extension had the Dodgers posted their fifth consecutive winning record and made the playoffs.
But the Dodgers are a dismal 70-90 after a 3-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Friday night at Petco Park, and the front office won't risk the embarrassment of Tracy's opting out to take a job with a team that has a lower payroll.
Playoff fever was palpable in the Dodger clubhouse before the game, but it had nothing to do with the National League West Division. Starting pitcher Derek Lowe was riveted by the televised game between Boston and the New York Yankees, and no wonder.
Lowe was a World Series hero last season for the Red Sox. And there he was, making his last start of the season in a meaningless game. He took the loss, falling to 12-15, but his earned-run average of 3.61 is second-lowest among the 26 pitchers with 13 or more losses.
Second baseman Jeff Kent, one of four National Leaguers who has scored 100 runs and driven in 100 runs, did not play.
"I haven't convinced myself he's played his last game in 2005," Tracy said. "But [Friday], he should sit back and relax."
The victory assured the Padres (81-79) that they won't become the first team to enter the playoffs with a losing record.
A sweep of the series will enable them to avoid entering the playoffs with the worst division-winning record since the leagues were split into divisions in 1969. The New York Mets were division champions in 1973 with an 82-79 record.
Chad Billingsley was a repeat winner as Dodger minor league pitcher of the year, and third baseman Adam LaRoche was player of the year.
Billingsley, a first-round pick in 2003, was 13-6 with a 3.51 earned-run average for double-A Jacksonville, striking out 162 in 146 innings. LaRoche split the season between Class-A Vero Beach and Jacksonville, batting .305 with 30 home runs and 94 runs batted in.