The Mets fired Buck Showalter on Sunday before their season finale against the Phillies, setting up a search for the organization’s fifth manager in seven years.
Incoming president of baseball operations David Stearns, whose first day on the job officially is Monday, made that decision, according to owner Steve Cohen.
Showalter, who spent two seasons with the Mets, said he has never spoken to Stearns. General manager Billy Eppler, who is taking a de facto demotion with Stearns’ arrival, approached Showalter in his office late Saturday night after the Mets’ doubleheader sweep to inform Showalter of Stearns’ call.
“The way it works is, you bring in a president of baseball ops, they’re entitled to bring in their own people,” Cohen said after a 9-1 loss that dropped the Mets to 74-87. “It became clear that he might be going in a different direction, and that’s certainly his right. And I gave him that right. It’s no different than when a CEO comes into a new company: They bring in some of their own people.”
Showalter said: “It’s not always fair. We should’ve played better.”
Cohen and Stearns talked about a managerial change during the interview process in August and September, Cohen said. By the time Stearns agreed to take the job on Sept. 12, it had become clear that he wanted Showalter out. Nobody knew it, but for almost the final three weeks, Showalter was done.
“This is not a reflection on Buck. Buck did everything we wanted him to do,” Cohen said. “I personally have no complaints. I loved having Buck here. I think he did a fine job.”
As Showalter brought the lineup card to the umpires at home plate before his last game, the entire team and coaching staff filtered out of the dugout to applaud. The scoreboard had a “Thank you Buck” graphic. The Citi Field crowd also applauded.
Showalter, who said he is open to managing elsewhere in the future, gave players and other personnel a heads-up Sunday morning. Francisco Lindor said he was “sad.” Brandon Nimmo was “obviously sad” and said the blame for the bad season falls on the players. Pete Alonso went with “really upset.”
“I’m too emotional right now to tell you if it’s right or wrong,” Lindor said. “It’s a decision that comes from above.”
Showalter, who was under contract for 2024, revealed his ouster at the end of his pregame news conference Sunday afternoon before managing one last game.
Although he initially framed it as a pseudo-resignation, subsequent statements from Cohen and Eppler made it clear that the decision was not Showalter’s. “We let Buck know we’ll be parting ways,” Cohen’s read in part. “We will begin the search for a new manager immediately.”
Eppler’s included: “We felt that making a managerial change was the right course of action.”
Stearns’ first comments as a Mets employee will come at his introductory news conference at noon Monday.
Cohen praised Showalter as “a generational manager” and Eppler appreciated his “dedication, professionalism and leadership.”
“In fairness to me, they gave me the option of stepping aside or either — I don’t know what else,” said Showalter, 67. “Anyway, I appreciate that. But the new leadership, they’re going to go in a different direction with the manager next year.”
Then Showalter, typically an off-the-cuff public speaker, read a brief speech off a sheet of paper about what an honor it was to manage the Mets.
“They’ve got a perfect right to go in a different direction,” he said. “It’s not the ending that I wanted. But I still love this city and the players.”
Showalter’s voice began to crack near the end.
“If I talk any more, it won’t get good,” he said. “I left a bunch out, but that’s about it. How’d I do?”
In the past 13 months, the Mets finished off a massive collapse, blowing the rest of what had been a 10 1⁄2-game lead in the NL East, and endured a miserable 2023 season, ending with a losing record well outside the playoff picture despite the biggest payroll in the history of baseball.
Their 101 wins in 2022 were the second most in franchise history. Showalter called that season “as much fun as I’ve ever had in the game.” Monday is the anniversary of the Mets losing the third of three games in Atlanta, helping to waste the season.
“Crazy that just one year later we’re saying goodbye to that relationship,” Nimmo said. “That’s kind of what these times produce. When things aren’t going well in New York, things happen. And they happen quickly. It’s our job as players to try to not let these things happen again.”
Their encore began with World Series expectations, but Cohen and Eppler gave up on the season by late July, dealing several key players, including aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, before the trade deadline.
In 22 seasons as a manager with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Orioles and Mets, Showalter has won one postseason series. He went 175-148 with the Mets and is 1,726-1,665 overall, pending a resolution to last week’s suspended game with the Marlins.
“One of the things Buck said was, ‘You guys will be OK,’ ” Lindor said. “And I trust him.”
Showalter said: “Someone is going to walk into a great situation here . . . There’s better things ahead for the Mets.”