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Mets managerial candidate Joe Girardi steps down from Team USA

Greg Bird, manager Joe Girardi and Aaron Judge

Greg Bird, manager Joe Girardi and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees look on from the dugout during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 21, 2017 in Houston. Credit: Getty Images/Ronald Martinez

Mets managerial candidate Joe Girardi took a noteworthy step Wednesday in preparation for becoming a major-league manager again, resigning as manager of the United States team that will play in an Olympics qualifier next month.

In August, Girardi was named manager of Team USA for the Premier12 tournament. On Wednesday, USA Baseball announced that one of Girardi’s former Yankees teammates, Scott Brosius, is replacing him. Play begins Nov. 2.

Girardi dropped that commitment “as he pursues open managerial opportunities in Major League Baseball,” USA Baseball said in a release. In addition to the Mets gig, Girardi, a former Yankees and Marlins manager, has also been linked to openings with the Phillies and Cubs.

“We are grateful that Joe was a part of Team USA and we appreciate the time and preparation he dedicated to our endeavor of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director and CEO, said in a statement. “On behalf of the organization, we wish him the best of luck as he seeks a manager position in Major League Baseball.”

Girardi is one of six known Mets managerial candidates. The others: Yankees special adviser Carlos Beltran, Mets quality-control coach Luis Rojas, ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez, Diamondbacks vice president of player development Mike Bell and Twins bench coach Derek Shelton.

Rojas, it is worth noting, is manager of the Premier12 Dominican Republic team. (Robinson Cano’s father, Joselito Cano, is Rojas’ bullpen coach).

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen and other club decision-makers have been entrenched in in-person interviews this week, though the Mets have revealed little about their timeline. MLB typically prefers teams refrain from making news — a so-called “news blackout” — during the World Series, which begins Tuesday.

Perez joined Beltran — who said Sunday that the Mets are the only managerial job he is interested in — as the only candidates who have publicly commented on the job possibility. Steve Phillips, the former Mets GM, asked Perez, who met with the Mets on Monday, about his interview on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.

“Well I can tell you that it was an honor, first of all, that they brought me in, and it was a great experience and I’m humbled by it,” said Perez, who also works for SiriusXM. “I really am. So it went well and we’ll see what happens but they have a lot of really good candidates and we just have to wait and find out what they decide on. But it was a complete honor to be called upon.”

Also Wednesday, the Angels became the first of eight teams looking for a manager to make a decision. They signed Joe Maddon, formerly of the Cubs and Rays, to a three-year contract worth a reported $12 million.

That move is relevant to the Mets for a couple of reasons. Although there were no signs that the Mets seriously considered Maddon, it does formally remove one attractive option — veteran manager, World Series champion, popular in his clubhouses — from the pool for the teams still looking. That includes the Phillies, who were thought to be a potential landing spot for Maddon, who grew up in eastern Pennsylvania.

The Phillies are also interested in Girardi. They reportedly are interviewing him, Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker this week.

The other Maddon tidbit that matters for the Mets: He is due to make about $4 million per year. That is a significant cut from his reported $6 million annual salary in Chicago, evidence of the belief that managers these days — in an era when front offices hold increasing influence over the manager and the dugout — simply aren’t going to get the money they used to.

The Mets have never paid big money for a manager, and there is skepticism within the industry that they would do so this time. But if Maddon took a pay cut, perhaps that tweaks the manager market and increases the Mets’ chances of meeting in the financial middle with Girardi — less than he made with the Yankees ($4 million per year), but more than the Mets usually pay their manager.

Girardi, it is worth noting, is the only person known to be up for the Mets job who has previously managed in the majors. The other five would all be first-timers.

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