It was always going to be Buck Showalter.
As soon as the New York Mets entered the managerial market for a new skipper, the 65-year-old’s name was at the top of many lists of potential candidates — providing the experienced dugout leader that owner Steve Cohen had been looking for.
He spent his first year with the club watching first-year manager Luis Rojas not only struggle with in-game decision-making and bullpen management but also try to be a calming voice inside a clubhouse that experienced its fair share of drama.
It didn’t work, and a Mets team that had playoff aspirations limped to a 77-85 finish in 2021 with Rojas not invited back to captain the ship in 2022 and a busy offseason anticipated.
It lived up to the hype.
Before the league and owners locked out the players earlier this month, Cohen and new general manager Billy Eppler spent over $250 million on outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, infielder Eduardo Escobar, and most notably, a record-setting three-year, $130 million pact with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.
Eppler then whittled down the team’s list of managerial candidates to three: Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, and Showalter.
The former two would have been first-time managers — a similar route the Mets have taken when bringing on the likes of Mickey Callaway and Rojas — while the latter was just what Cohen was looking for.
With over 3,000 games managed (1,551-1,517 career record), the former Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Orioles manager is the most experienced skipper the franchise has had since Casey Stengel, the team’s inaugural manager from 1962-1965. He’s managed in New York and dealt with the media, he’s taken small-market teams to the playoffs, and he’s provided a steady, solid presence in the clubhouse.
He was too good for Cohen to pass up, and he couldn’t wait for the team’s expected official announcement on Monday to share the news.
“I’m pleased to announce Buck Showalter as the new manager of the New York Mets,” Cohen wrote on Twitter Saturday afternoon just one day after Showalter interviewed for a final time with him and Eppler.
Like the social-media announcement, it’s all about the now for the Mets, now.
A roster packed with stars — from Pete Alonso to Francisco Lindor, to Jacob deGrom, to Max Scherzer — is expected to compete for a spot in the playoffs in 2022. They now have a manager who knows how to handle such expectations that will help carry out that vision for the owner who came one calendar year ago and promised that the Mets are going to be a force to be reckoned with… now.