Joe Espada of the Houston Astros in 2019.

Joe Espada of the Houston Astros in 2019. Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson

More than two months after dumping Luis Rojas, the Mets have begun in earnest to look for his replacement, working this week on a first round of interviews with candidates, sources said.

Among those meeting with general manager Billy Eppler and his front office are veteran manager Buck Showalter, ex-Tigers and Angels manager Brad Ausmus, Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, according to a person familiar with the process.

Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren, who used to have the same job with the Mets, also will interview, SNY reported.

Despite searching for a manager relatively late on the baseball calendar, the Mets are facing competition from the Athletics regarding a couple of those names. Espada and Quatraro reportedly are up for Oakland’s managerial spot as well. The A’s also are considering several internal candidates, which would not pose a threat to the Mets’ process and possible preference.

The Mets de-prioritized finding a new manager for most of the past two months, instead focusing on finding a head of baseball operations — eventually Eppler as GM — and then the free-agency rush that preceded the lockout that began last week. Now, with little else to do, they are finding someone to run the dugout.

Team president Sandy Alderson said last month that he was not worried about delaying the managerial search because the Athletics were the only other team doing the same, and he figured they would go with somebody already employed by the club.

Most of the Mets’ known candidates, first reported by SNY and MLB Network, can be separated into two categories: veteran managers (Showalter and Ausmus) and bench coaches/managerial prospects (Espada, Quatraro, Kelly).

And then there is the 60-year-old Geren, who is both, having managed the Athletics from 2007-11. He served as Terry Collins’ bench coach for four years through 2015 before joining the Dodgers. He has been by Dave Roberts’ side ever since, a stretch during which Los Angeles has been the most successful franchise in the majors.

Showalter, 65, has the most experience of this bunch. In 20 seasons managing the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles, he has a .506 winning percentage and one postseason series win. He has been named the AL Manager of the Year on three occasions: 1994 with the Yankees, 2004 with the Rangers and 2014 with the Orioles. He was fired by Baltimore after the 2018 season and has done some broadcast work with MLB Network in recent years.

Ausmus, a 52-year-old Connecticut native, played 18 seasons in the majors as a catcher before getting into managing. He led the Tigers from 2014-17, winning a division title once, and the Angels in 2019, when he worked under Eppler. His quick ouster there reportedly was due to owner Arte Moreno wanting to hire Joe Maddon. Like Alderson and assistant GM Bryn Alderson, Ausmus went to Dartmouth.

Espada, 46, has been a hot managerial prospect in recent years, interviewing with the Rangers and Cubs and being mentioned for other openings. His Mets ties include overlapping with Eppler during their Yankees days. Espada has been a steady presence during the Astros’ recent success, retained as bench coach after they hired Dusty Baker two seasons ago as part of the fallout from their 2017 sign-stealing scandal (which pre-dated Espada’s tenure there).

Quatraro, 48, has been the bench coach for Kevin Cash — widely regarded as one of the best managers in baseball, working for one of the most well-run and analytically focused organizations in the sport — for the past three seasons. He grew up near Albany. Like Espada, Quatraro has been on the managerial search circuit during recent hiring cycles, talking with the Giants, Tigers and Pirates about their openings.

Kelly, 41, is the youngest of this group. He also played in the majors most recently, completing his nine-year utilityman career with the Marlins in 2016. Since then he has been a scout for the Tigers, a first-base coach for the Astros and — for the past two seasons — a bench coach for the Pirates.


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