McDowell has been one of the lowest-paid pitching coaches in the game since joining Atlanta's staff in 2005. He met earlier this week with Wren, although that meeting did not offer an immediate resolution to his contract.
McDowell, 52, completed his eighth season with Atlanta in 2013, when the Braves led all Major League clubs with a 3.18 staff ERA and ranked second by allowing just 2.54 walks per nine innings pitched. The Braves ranked sixth overall (fourth in the National League) with a .244 opponents' batting average.
Under McDowell's leadership, Atlanta's staff ERA has dropped each season since 2008, and has ranked in the top five in the Majors each season since 2009. Over the last three seasons, Atlanta's relievers have posted a combined 2.76 ERA (best in the Majors) and .226 opponents' batting average (third in the Majors) while tying for the fewest home runs allowed among all Major League bullpens in that stretch, with just 103.
The Phillies had targeted McDowell -- who pitched for the Phils over two and a half seasons from 1989-91 -- but did not have a chance to formally speak with him until his contract expired at midnight ET on Thursday.
The Phillies have interviewed at least six other candidates for the pitching coach vacancy.
It is possible the club likes one of those candidates but wanted to speak with McDowell first.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.