The Mets have interviewed Astros’ bench coach Joe Espada as part of their ongoing managerial search, reports Andy Martino of SNY (Twitter link). He becomes the fifth known interviewee, joining Matt Quatraro, Buck Showalter, Brad Ausmus and Bob Geren.
Espada, 46, has spent the past four seasons as the Houston bench coach. His first two years were under A.J. Hinch, and he retained that position even after the club moved on to Dusty Baker in the wake of Hinch’s firing for his role the 2017 sign-stealing scandal. Before his time with the Astros, Espada spent four seasons in the Yankees’ organization, the latter three of which came on Joe Girardi’s coaching staff. Espada’s time in the Bronx partially overlapped with that of current Mets’ general manager Billy Eppler, who worked as an AGM with the Yankees from 2012-15.
To date, Espada has no big league managing experience. He’s long been regarded as a viable candidate to land a top position at some point, though. Over the 2018-19 offseason, he reportedly interviewed for managerial positions with the Twins, Angels and Rangers, and he was reported to be a finalist for the Blue Jays’ job that eventually went to Charlie Montoyo. The following winter, he met with the Cubs and Giants — making a strong enough impression with the latter organization that he was once reported to be the front-runner for a position that ultimately went to Gabe Kapler.
Espada has also drawn interest from the other club with a current vacancy in the dugout. Britt Ghiroli and Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported earlier this week that he’s expected to sit down with A’s brass as part of their efforts to find a replacement for Bob Melvin.
Of the six known candidates for the Mets’ position, five have now interviewed. The other — Pirates’ bench coach Don Kelly — appears to be out of the running. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this evening (on Twitter) that Kelly has pulled his name from consideration for personal reasons. Presumably, that means he’ll reprise his role as Derek Shelton’s top lieutenant in Pittsburgh in 2022.
That’s not to say the group of five known to have interviewed are the finalists for the position. Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the Mets have an interview with an additional unknown candidate scheduled for tomorrow morning.