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Mets’ managerial search begins to take shape

The team has several names on their list with varying backgrounds and degrees of experience.

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The lockout has given the Mets a chance to begin their managerial hiring process, which was pushed back to December due to their egregiously long GM search. The names the Mets are eyeing have been bandied about for a while, and now today they reportedly began the process of formally interviewing and/or requesting to interview prospects.

The list of names that we know the Mets are strongly interested in or are already set to interview are as follows: Rays bench coach Mark Quatraro, Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Pirates bench coach and former player Don Kelly, Buck Showalter, and Brad Ausmus. The Mets have been given permission to interview Quatraro and are expected to receive it for Espada, and they have contacted Showalter and reportedly interviewed Ausmus today. No word on if they’ve been given permission to interview Kelly, but one has to assume they will if they are interested.

Those five candidates may not be the final list, but they are considered the strongest candidates at this time. Bruce Bochy, David Wright, and Curtis Granderson were also rumored to be on the Mets’ list over the weekend, but nothing more serious has come out about them today. There is obviously quite a bit of diversity in terms of experience and background among these candidates, and likely varying degrees of control they’d have over matters as well.

The big name of the list is obviously Buck Showalter, who comes with over 20 years of managerial experience between the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Orioles, but only once has managed a team to an LCS and has never managed a World Series. He hasn’t managed since 2018 with the Orioles, and wasn’t known to be a great tactical manager of the modern game in his later years— including his infamous gaffe of leaving Zack Britton in the bullpen in extra innings of the 2016 AL Wild Card Game—but he was considered a strong players manager in Baltimore.

Quatraro has been Kevin Cash’s bench coach since 2018, and comes with four seasons of minor league managerial experience from 2006-2009. He also spent four seasons as the Assistant Hitting Coach for the Guardians from 2014-2017. Quatraro looks to join the likes of Charlie Montoyo and Dave Martinez as successful members of the Kevin Cash managerial tree.

Joe Espada has been a hot managerial candidate for many years since taking over as Astros bench coach in 2018. He received interviews for the Rangers and Cubs’ managerial positions in the past, but did not win either of those jobs. He has never managed at any level, but has been an MLB-level coach since he became the Yankees’ third base coach in 2015. Holding the same position that Alex Cora did before becoming a successful manager will always get eyes on you.

Kelly is best known for his time as a player in Detroit, where he was one of Jim Leyland’s favorite utility players to plug in to big spots. He was a scout for the Tigers in 2017 before being named the first base coach of the Astros for the 2019 season and the bench coach of the Pirates for 2020, where he currently serves. He has no managerial experience but was often considered one of those “future manager” type players.

Brad Ausmus has five years of MLB managerial experience behind him for both the Tigers and Billy Eppler’s Angels, but none of it is very successful experience. His career managerial record is 386-422, and he only made the playoffs one time; in his first season with the Tigers. He was fired from his Angels job after only one season when the team finished 70-92. He’s not known as a strong tactical and he doesn’t appear to have a strong reputation among players either.

Much like their GM search, the Mets appear to be casting a wide net with their managerial candidates. They are making sure to interview candidates from all over the spectrum, and because of that it’s hard to say that anyone has the inside track to the job as of this moment. The Mets will probably want to have a manager in place by the time the lockout is lifted so that they can put their focus back on player acquisition.