After hiring three straight inexperienced managers, the Mets on Saturday decided to Buck the recent trend.
Buck Showalter, the job is yours.
Team owner Steve Cohen announced the hiring on Twitter, ending a search that began in October after the Mets declined Luis Rojas’ 2022 option. Showalter, according to a source, received a three-year contract that will be the richest in franchise history for a manager, surpassing the $9.4 million deal Art Howe landed (over four years) before the 2003 season.
“I’m pleased to announce Buck Showalter as the new manager of the New York Mets,” Cohen tweeted.
The 65-year-old Showalter “aced” his second interview a day earlier, according to a source, prompting Cohen and general manager Billy Eppler to move swiftly in ending the managerial search.
Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were the other finalists for the position. Quatraro, according to a source, left a particularly strong impression on Mets brass, with factions of the front office backing his candidacy.
But Showalter’s résumé was too much for the others to overcome, especially after Cohen had watched Rojas, a first-time manager, appear overwhelmed by the job at times last season. The Mets had previously hired first-timers in Mickey Callaway and Carlos Beltran after the longest-tenured manager in franchise history, Terry Collins, stepped aside following the 2017 season. Beltran lasted just 77 days on the job (without managing a game) before departing in 2020 after he was implicated in the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme.
Showalter will take over a win-now team that includes stars Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor. Showalter took the Orioles to the postseason three times from 2010-18, but also presided over a team that plummeted to 47 victories in his final season in Baltimore.
The Mets have moved in an analytically driven direction since Cohen’s purchase of the team after the 2020 season, and the old-school Showalter will be expected to implement data in his game-planning and managerial strategy. Last season’s World Series, which featured veteran managers in Brian Snitker and Dusty Baker, may have only bolstered the case for Showalter.
But Eppler also had Showalter on his radar previously. As Angels general manager, Eppler wanted to hire Showalter as Brad Ausmus’ replacement following the 2019 season, but was overruled by owner Arte Moreno, who wanted Joe Maddon.
A strong communicator — he has worked most recently as an analyst for MLB Network and YES — Showalter likely won’t be overwhelmed by the media responsibilities that come with the job.
Showalter began his major league managerial career with the Yankees in 1992 and since then has guided the Diamondbacks and Rangers, in addition to the Orioles. He becomes the fifth person hired as manager by both the Yankees and Mets — joining a list that includes Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Dallas Green and Joe Torre.
Last week, former Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (who played for Showalter in Texas) called Showalter “the smartest man in baseball,” adding that he wasn’t speaking in hyperbole.
“When you sit down and talk to Buck about the game, he is just so sharp looking at it from all different angles and his record speaks for itself,” Teixeira said. “There is not a more prepared manager as well. You take his intelligence and his preparation and I think he’s a great manager. Just look at what he’s done with so many franchises, building them up from the bottom.”
With Showalter hired, the Mets can concentrate on building a coaching staff. Showalter is expected to receive at least some say in the composition of that staff, which presently consists only of pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, whose 2022 option was picked up in October.
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