Buck Showalter, Joe Espada up next for Mets’ manager interviews


The Mets’ managerial search, fresh off a bye day Wednesday, will resume Thursday when Astros bench coach Joe Espada meets with Steve Cohen and company.

The strong favorite, veteran manager Buck Showalter, will close out the finalists’ round on Friday, and the Mets figure to make their decision by early next week.

Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro led off the proceedings on Tuesday, getting together with the Mets’ top leadership at a location said to be outside New York City (and not at Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management headquarters in Connecticut, either).

While Quatraro and Espada surely are not blind to the reality that Showalter, by virtue of both his experience and his popularity among Mets fans, stands as the most likely candidate to prevail, they can nevertheless use their access to leave an impression with Cohen as well as president Sandy Alderson and general manager Billy Eppler (who knows Espada well from their time together with the Yankees). Likewise, the Mets can learn more about Espada, the Astros bench coach, and Quatraro, the Rays’ bench coach, and their current employers, two of the more successful big-league clubs in recent years.

A composite image of Joe Espada and Buck Showalter.
Joe Espada and Buck Showalter
Getty Images; Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Espada worked alongside Eppler with the 2014 and 2015 Yankees, the first season as a special assistant to the team’s general manager Brian Cashman and the second as a third-base coach. Eppler included Espada on his list of interviewees when he filled the Angels’ managerial opening for 2019; ironically, Espada lost out to Brad Ausmus, who interviewed with the Mets last week and didn’t survive the round of cuts. In addition to Eppler, Espada knows a pair of key Mets players, closer Edwin Diaz and shortstop Francisco Lindor, both of whom played for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic as Espada served on the coaching staff.

Both Diaz and Lindor have experienced their share of struggles since becoming Mets, and they’ll be regarded as critical pieces as the team looks to ramp up its competitiveness in the wake of Cohen’s spending spree on Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar.

Showalter’s track record of turning teams around quickly will aid his cause to land a fifth big-league managing gig, as will this reality: Since dismissing Terry Collins after the 2017 season, the Mets turned to three first-time skippers. One, Carlos Beltran, never even made it to spring training, thanks to his involvement in the 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. The others, Mickey Callaway, who preceded Beltran, and Luis Rojas, who followed him, both struggled greatly at the position.

All the momentum rests in the 65-year-old Showalter’s favor. That won’t stop his two challengers or the Mets themselves from finishing this process and trying to optimize the time spent together.

— With Mike Puma



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