Lotte Marines’ representative Ryuzo Setoyama said Thursday that the Pacific League club has offered Bobby Valentine a new three-year contract starting in 2006 in an apparent move to keep the Japan Series winning manager.

News photoBobby Valentine

“We made the offer with sincerity. We strongly want him to continue managing our team for a second consecutive Japan Series title,” Setoyama said, noting Lotte and Valentine have yet to agree on a deal for next year.

Although Valentine’s current three-year contract with Lotte expires next year, the Chiba club made the latest move at a time major-league teams have shown interest in acquiring his services.

“Eventually, we’ll respect Bobby’s decision,” Setoyama added.

On the same day, Valentine denied he received the offer from Lotte.

Valentine guided the Marines to their first Japan Series title in 31 years with a four-game sweep of the Hanshin Tigers late last month.

He revealed earlier this week that he has drawn interest from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.

On Wednesday, Valentine was named the recipient of the Matsutaro Shoriki award for his contributions to the development of Japanese baseball. He became the first foreigner and first member of Lotte to receive the award.

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