A report Friday night said the Mets are internally discussing whether to include Dusty Baker as part of their search to replace Carlos Beltran as the team’s manager.
The New York Post report said the team had not yet reached out to Baker, 70, who most recently managed the Washington Nationals.
It’s a strange time, but the Red Sox and Astros also are looking for new managers because of the sign-stealing scandal that is engulfing baseball, so at least the Mets are not alone.
The Astros will interview Baker on Monday, according to a report by MLB.com. Houston reportedly has interviewed Buck Showalter and John Gibbons. The Red Sox have said they are looking at internal candidates first.
If the Mets interview and ultimately hire Baker or one of the other experienced candidates out there (Showalter, Gibbons, Bruce Bochy), it would represent a sea change from the first managerial search for general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and company.
The first time around, the only truly experienced former manager the Mets interviewed was Joe Girardi, and they let him go to the Phillies without giving the former Yankees manager a second interview.
The process led to the hiring of Beltran, but on Thursday, he and the Mets agreed to “part ways” in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal.
If the Mets do change course and bring in a veteran manager such as Baker, it could represent a realization that this chaotic and unprecedented moment — with spring training set to open Feb. 11 — requires an experienced hand at the wheel.
Or it could be an admission that Van Wagenen — with his methodical, analytics-based approach — botched the first managerial search and needs to go with an experienced manager who would appeal to owner Fred Wilpon, who still has the final say until billionaire Steve Cohen takes over the franchise at some point in the next five years (as per his agreement to buy out the Wilpons).
Just as in any other business, the Mets’ front office is not all of one mind. Some executives reportedly preferred ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez to Beltran. Perez, who also would be a first-time manager, will receive consideration this time around, too, even though he signed a multiyear extension with ESPN in December.
Other candidates from the first round include current Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas, Mets first-base coach Tony DeFrancesco and Nationals bench coach Tim Bogar.
Some in the Mets’ front office were impressed with Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy. The Mets also could consider their own new bench coach, Hensley Meulens.
If the Mets are mulling whether to throw the search wide open again to include candidates such as Baker, it could take longer than the club initially hoped. But with a roster Van Wagenen believes is ready to win now, it’s probably more important to get it right this time than to do it fast.
Beltran’s would-be coaching staff is in Port St. Lucie, Florida, getting ready for the season and waiting to find out who the new boss will be.