Dec. 14: The Mets will begin the second round of interviews today, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Dec. 12, 4:17pm: Matt Quatraro joins Showalter and Espada as finalists, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).
3:55pm: The Mets’ managerial search has moved on to the next stage, with Buck Showalter and Joe Espada making up the field of known final candidates, as per Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of The New York Post. It isn’t known if a third candidate could also still be in the mix, or if Showalter and Espada are the only two who will now interview with Mets owner Steve Cohen.
There was no surprise over Showalter’s inclusion, and there is an increasing expectation that the veteran skipper will ultimately be the Mets’ choice. As SNY’s Andy Martino puts it, a Showalter hiring “feels almost inevitable,” and “folks in the industry are convinced Showalter is getting the job unless something goes horribly wrong in final stages.”
While the 65-year-old Showalter has 20 years of managerial experience, the 46-year-old Espada has never been a manager at the big league level, though he has a long resume as a coach. Working for the last four years as the Astros’ bench coach, Espada also has seven previous seasons of experience as a third base coach with the Yankees and Marlins, as well as stints as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman and as a coach and coordinator in the Marlins’ farm system.
Espada has been a popular managerial candidate in recent years, and if Showalter does end up as New York’s next manager, it would represent another near-miss for the Astros coach. Espada has been previously linked to managerial openings with the Blue Jays, Giants, Angels, Cubs, Orioles, Twins, and Rangers, and he reportedly came close to being hired by the Giants before they decided on Gabe Kapler. Should the Mets pass on Espada, another opportunity might come quickly, as Espada has also recently spoken with the Athletics about their current managerial vacancy.
If Showalter and Espada are indeed the Mets’ final two, it is somewhat symbolic of how the club has weighed both experienced dugout voices and first-time candidates throughout their search. Besides Showalter, the Mets also interviewed former Tigers/Angels manager Brad Ausmus and former A’s manager Bob Geren. On the less-experienced side of the coin, the Mets also spoke with Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, and they looked to speak with Pirates bench coach Don Kelly before Kelly took himself out of consideration.