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The Mets waited two months to get their manager search underway.
Now it may be entering its final week.
After new general manager Billy Eppler and his staff interviewed six known candidates this past week, the list is expected to be trimmed to two or three finalists who will meet with owner Steve Cohen in the coming days, as The Post’s Mike Puma reported. A hire could come as soon as the end of the week.
The Mets entered the weekend still working on cutting down that list, which included Buck Showalter, Brad Ausmus, Joe Espada, Bob Geren, Matt Quatraro and Clayton McCullough.
With the lockout underway and not expected to end any time soon, the Mets are not necessarily up against the clock to pick their manager, other than next having to fill the entire coaching staff other than pitching coach, with Jeremy Hefner the lone holdover from Luis Rojas’ staff. The only other competition elsewhere is from the Athletics, who have also reportedly interviewed Espada and Quatraro, though they seem to be moving at a slower pace with their first-round interviews still underway.
Showalter appeared to be the front-runner for the Mets job heading into the process and that doesn’t seem to have changed through the first round of interviews. The former Orioles, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Yankees manager would bring a wealth of experience, particularly in the New York market, to the seat that has been filled by a first-time manager in each of the Mets’ last three hires.
The 65-year-old Showalter impressed Mets officials during his interview Wednesday. He also appears to have the backing of Max Scherzer, the Mets’ new $130 million co-ace, who holds Showalter in high esteem, The Post reported.
Scherzer also would be familiar with Ausmus, who overlapped with the right-hander in his first season as manager of the Tigers in 2014. They went to the playoffs together that year, though in four seasons since as manager — three more in Detroit and one with the Angels — Ausmus’ teams have failed to reach the postseason.
Eppler has hired Ausmus, 52, twice before — first as a special assistant with the Angels in 2018 and then as manager of the club for the 2019 season. The former catcher only got a one-year run in the dugout, with the Angels going 72-90, before Eppler was persuaded by owner Arte Moreno to fire him so the Angels could hire Joe Maddon.
Geren is the only other known candidate with past MLB managing experience. The 60-year-old led the Athletics from 2007-2011, posting a record of 334-376 before he was fired. It opened the door for him to become Terry Collins’ bench coach with the Mets from 2012-2015, culminating with the team’s run to the World Series.
Cohen admitted during his introductory press conference last year, when speaking about his vision for a president of baseball operations, that he was not “crazy about people learning on my dime.” But while the three other candidates for this job lack major league managing experience, it’s likely no coincidence that they make up for it with strong experience as part of winning organizations.
Espada, who crossed paths with Eppler during their time with the Yankees, has spent the past four seasons as the Astros’ bench coach. The 46-year-old, who has been a hot name in recent manager searches across the game, previously spent a year as a special assistant in the Yankees’ front office alongside Eppler before becoming their infield and third-base coach for three seasons.
Quatraro, 48, has been with the Rays since 2018 and was on Terry Francona’s staff in Cleveland before that. The Albany-area native became the Rays’ third-base coach in 2018 before spending the last three seasons as Kevin Cash’s bench coach.
McCullough, 41, was the Dodgers’ first-base coach last season after having served as their minor league field coordinator in 2015. He previously spent 2006-2014 as a minor league manager in the Blue Jays organization.