NEW YORK — The Mets have whittled their list of manager candidates down to three, inviting Buck Showalter, Joe Espada and Matt Quatraro for second-round interviews, a source told MLB.com on Sunday. The Mets did not confirm the list as they are not commenting on the ongoing process.
Team owner Steve Cohen, who sat out the first round of interviews, is expected to take part in the callbacks.
Many within the industry consider Showalter the favorite for the job given his vast managerial experience, which dwarfs that of any other candidate. A manager for four teams over 20 seasons spanning 1992-2018, the 65-year-old Showalter is adept with the media and understands New York as well as anyone, having worked in the Bronx for four seasons. He also boasts a connection to Mets general manager Billy Eppler, who reportedly recommended Showalter to Angels owner Arte Moreno when Los Angeles was looking for a manager in 2019.
On paper, Showalter offers the Mets the type of experienced media-savvy manager they haven’t employed since Terry Collins left town in 2017. But concerns do exist. In his last stop in Baltimore, Showalter produced just four winning years in eight full seasons on the job. His last winning record came in 2016, when he absorbed significant criticism for not using All-Star closer Zack Britton in the AL Wild Card Game that the Orioles lost. The old-school Showalter will also have to be willing to accept the front-office influence that permeates nearly every dugout in baseball.
The Mets’ other two finalists are roughly two decades younger than Showalter, bringing a more modern outlook but also far less experience.
Espada, 46, has been a ubiquitous managerial candidate in recent years, interviewing for the Angels job that went to Brad Ausmus, the Rangers job that went to Chris Woodward, the Giants job that went to Gabe Kapler and the Cubs job that went to David Ross. With more than a decade’s worth of time served in big league dugouts, Espada understands the role’s responsibilities well despite never having served in it. He does have some brief experience managing in the Puerto Rican Winter League, and he twice served as third-base coach for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.
Quatraro, 48, has been the Rays’ bench coach for three seasons after prior stops in Cleveland and the Minor Leagues. A native of Albany, N.Y., Quatraro interviewed for the Giants job that went to Kapler and was a finalist for the Pirates job that went to Derek Shelton. Quatraro also reportedly spoke with the Tigers before they elected to hire A.J. Hinch. Quatraro has spent 26 seasons — more than half his life — in professional baseball, including 22 in the Rays’ organization.
The Mets have been searching for a manager since declining Luis Rojas’ option in October, but they first chose to hire a GM and wade through the opening act of free agency before continuing their search in earnest. Their initial managerial list included Brad Ausmus, Bob Geren, Clayton McCullough and Don Kelly, as well as the three who became finalists.