The second round of interviews to decide the next manager of the New York Mets has begun this week, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney on Wednesday.
The search that is down to three finalists — Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, and veteran former manager Buck Showalter — includes Mets owner Steve Cohen to help oversee the final process that was put together by general manager Billy Eppler.
Per Olney, Quatraro was interviewed yesterday, Espada will be interviewed Thursday, and Showalter will be interviewed Friday.
As this is perceived to be the final step of the process, a hire should come either this weekend or early next week.
After declining the option of Luis Rojas’ contract, the Mets became one of just two teams in the managerial market after Bob Melvin jumped Oakland to join the San Diego Padres.
Their search didn’t start until the hiring of Eppler last month, but the Mets moved quickly — especially considering that Major League Baseball has locked out its players after the expiration of its collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 1. That made the finding of a manager the team’s only priority as teams could not communicate with players.
But the Mets took complete advantage of the free-agency signing frenzy of late November that came with the realization that the lockout was looming. Over four days, they spent over $250 million on outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte, infielder Eduardo Escobar, and the biggest splash of them all — a monster three-year, $130 million contract with three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.
The team’s shopping spree made it look like an even more appealing destination despite woefully falling short of postseason expectations last season.
Add that with almost-autonomy of the managerial market as one of the only teams looking for a new skipper, and the Mets have had their proverbial pick of the litter.