In search of a new bench coach, the Mets have keyed in on a certain type of baseball lifer: former National League managers.
Sources said among those the Mets have interviewed for the opening are former Marlins and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who is currently the Marlins’ third-base coach; Jim Riggleman, a former manager of five teams, including four NL teams; former Reds manager Bryan Price, and Tony DeFrancesco, the Mets’ Triple-A manager.
The Mets need to replace Gary DiSarcina, their bench coach in 2018 who was re-assigned to third-base coach — a role in which he can continue instructing the infielders — as part of a field-staff restructuring under new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. The Mets also are looking for a hitting coach and bullpen coach.
A former NL manager as bench coach would help Mickey Callaway with the Xs and Os of the NL game. Callaway, who was the pitching coach for the American League’s Indians before becoming a manager, endured some growing pains in 2018, his first season with the Mets.
Among these four candidates, Gonzalez, 54, is the only one with a winning record as manager (710-692 in 10 seasons). He managed the Marlins from 2007-10 and Braves from 2011-16. Working with manager Don Mattingly in Miami the past two seasons, Gonzalez has spoken openly about his evolving views and embracing the analytical trends of modern baseball.
Riggleman, 66, has the most experience of this group, managing in parts of 13 seasons. He was not retained by the Reds after serving as interim manager for most of 2018. He got his first big-league managing gig with the Padres at the end of 1992 and stayed there for two more seasons. Since then, Riggleman has managed the Cubs (1995-99), Mariners (2008), Nationals (2009-11) and Reds (2018). Riggleman took over the Padres, Mariners, Nationals and Reds at midseason.
Price, 56, managed the Reds from 2014 until this past April, when the rebuilding team fired him during a slow start. A pitching coach from 2000-13 for the Mariners, Diamondbacks and Reds, Price would join Callaway and Dave Eiland on the Mets’ staff in having currently or previously worked in that role.
DeFrancesco, 55, is a bit of a wild card, as he has the least big-league managerial experience, guiding the then-NL Astros to a 16-25 mark at the end of 2012. But he has fans within the Mets’ organization for his work with Triple-A Las Vegas last season, his 24th as a minor-league manager. In 2015, after guiding the Astros' Triple-A affiliate to the championship, DeFrancesco was named the minor league manager of the year by Baseball America. DeFrancesco was born in the Bronx and was a catcher for Seton Hall University in the early 1980s.