The Mets declined an option to bring back skipper Luis Rojas shortly after the end of the 2021 season. Two months later, they remain without a manager. After spending a significant chunk of the early offseason in the search for a new GM that eventually landed Billy Eppler, the Mets turned their attention to the player market last week in advance of the lockout. With clubs barred from making major league transactions for the duration of the work stoppage, the Mets and the Athletics, the other team currently without a manager, figure to zero in on those respective searches in short order.
Andy Martino of SNY reports some preliminary candidates, naming Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, Pirates bench coach Don Kelly and former MLB managers Buck Showalter and Brad Ausmus among those under early consideration. Martino cautions that’s not an exhaustive list, and it’s not clear whether everyone in that group will get an interview.
No one from that group registers as much of a surprise. None of Espada, Quatraro or Kelly has managed at the big league level, but they’ve all been rumored as part of searches elsewhere. Espada, 46, has been the bench coach in Houston for the past four seasons, working underneath both A.J. Hinch and Dusty Baker. He’s interviewed for a few different managerial openings in recent years and at one point even looked to be the favorite for the Giants job that eventually went to Gabe Kapler.
Quatraro’s name has come up a few times over the past couple offseasons. Kevin Cash’s top lieutenant over the last three years in Tampa Bay, the 48-year-old Quatraro has interviewed with the Giants, Pirates and Tigers in winters past and was reportedly a finalist for the Pittsburgh job that went to Derek Shelton. Kelly has worked underneath Shelton in the Steel City over the past two seasons. The 41-year-old interviewed with the Tigers and Red Sox last offseason and was reported to be among the top handful under consideration for the job that went to Alex Cora.
Showalter and Ausmus, meanwhile, come with significant managerial experience. The former has been one of the more accomplished skippers of the past couple decades. Showalter, now 65, landed his first big league managerial job with the Yankees in 1992. He spent four years in the Bronx, managed the D-Backs from 1998-2000, the Rangers from 2003-06 and the Orioles from 2010-18.
Over his career, Showalter won Manager of the Year Awards at three of those four stops. He’s overseen five playoff clubs (including three division winners), taking the 2014 Orioles to the AL Championship Series. Showalter hasn’t managed since being dismissed by Baltimore after the 2018 campaign, but he’s continued to express openness to a return to the dugout.
Ausmus, meanwhile, has managed at two separate stints. He spent the 2014-17 campaigns at the helm of the Tigers, then managed the Angels in 2019. That stint in Anaheim overlapped with Eppler’s tenure as Angels’ GM, fueling immediate speculation upon the latter’s hiring with the Mets that he could look to bring Ausmus to Queens.
Prior to that stint as skipper, Ausmus spent the 2018 season as a member of the Los Angeles front office. Eppler’s Angels fired Ausmus after just one season in the managerial chair, but it was reported at the time that call was made by owner Arte Moreno (perhaps not coincidentally just one day after it was announced Joe Maddon was leaving the Cubs).