From the SF Chronicle’s Henry Schulman.

Sources said the Giants and San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy (above) were meeting late into the night Thursday to finalize an agreement for Bochy to replace Felipe Alou, whose contract was not renewed. Bochy will be introduced as Giants manager Friday if final details are worked out.

Bochy, 51, met with general manager Brian Sabean and others in the front office in San Francisco on Thursday and accepted an offer in principle to manage the Giants and move north after 24 years with the Padres as a catcher, minor-league manager, major-league coach and, since 1995, major-league manager.

He led the Padres to National League West titles in 1996, 1998, 2005 and 2006, and took them to the World Series in 1998. Bochy has a reputation as a players-friendly manager but occasionally was criticized in San Diego for his game management, particularly during the postseason. During his 12 years as Padres manager the team was 951-975 during the regular season.

Bochy will beat out Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, Angels pitching coach Bud Black and Mets third-base coach Manny Acta. Wotus would not comment Thursday. Acta and Black did not immediately return phone calls.

Black, also a candidate in Oakland, is expected to be a front-runner to replace Bochy in San Diego.

One of the big unanswered questions is why the Padres would allow their manager of 12 years to move to a division rival.

The easy answer could be that chief executive officer Sandy Alderson, who came on board two years ago, would like his own manager and would not discuss an extension of Bochy’s contract, which expires after 2007.