Valentine has spoken with Marlins

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Bobby Valentine may have announced a deal to join ESPN this past week, but the former Mets manager already has engaged in discussions about leading another big-league team.

Valentine has spoken with the Marlins about replacing manager Fredi Gonzalez, a Florida source confirmed. ESPN first reported Valentine's communication with the Marlins, who have fallen short in playoff runs the past two seasons.

As the Marlins wrapped up their season Sunday in Philadelphia, team president David Samson didn't dispel the notion that the team's upper echelon isn't pleased with the performance of Gonzalez, who is signed to manage the Marlins through 2011.

"As we looked at the performance at things that happened, games that went one way, games that went another way, there is no question we felt we should have been a playoff team," Samson told reporters.

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Valentine, 59, hasn't managed in Major League Baseball since the Mets fired him after a 75-86 season in 2002. He spent the past six years managing the Chiba Lotte Marines (he also led them in 1994), winning the Japan Series in 2005.

His deal with ESPN, it's believed, features an out clause to manage not only in MLB but with another team in Japan if an opportunity arises.

The Nationals and Indians reportedly also are interested in Valentine's services. Earlier this season, a Japanese newspaper reported that the Yokohama BayStars could be interested in hiring Valentine for 2010.

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