Once David Stearns was officially in place as the president of baseball operations for the Mets, it wasn’t long before he had to answer questions about the team’s managerial opening. After all, firing manager Buck Showalter was the executive’s first major decision in his new role.
During his introductory press conference, Stearns told reporters (including Anthony DiComo of MLB.com) that he didn’t have anyone in mind just yet, and the team would “cast a wide net” in search of a new manager. In recent days, however, he has begun to narrow the field. According to Will Sammon of The Athletic, the Mets will only look outside the organization to hire a replacement for Showalter. That takes candidates like bench coach Eric Chavez and third base coach Joey Cora out of the running. As Sammon notes, Carlos Beltrán is another name to come off the table. Beltrán, who briefly served as the Mets manager during the 2019-20 offseason, re-signed with the team as a special assistant to the GM earlier this year.
It’s not surprising that Stearns wants to hire from outside the organization. Other than Beltrán, there aren’t any obvious internal candidates, and what’s more, it’s quite common for a new executive to bring in a manager of his choosing.
The name most frequently mentioned in speculation thus far has been Brewers manager Craig Counsell, although the Mets cannot formally consider Counsell until his contract with Milwaukee expires at the end of October. Still, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported on Monday that the Mets have “a reasonable chance” to sign the long-time Brewers manager this offseason. It’s more than a reasonable fit; Counsell worked under Stearns in Milwaukee for seven years. What’s more, Heyman cites a source who claims Counsell is looking to be paid “what he believes is fair.” Either team could afford to pay Counsell the salary he’s looking for, but recent history suggests the Mets are far more willing to spend.
Other potential contenders include Astros bench coach Joe Espada, Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy, and Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski. Two years ago, Espada was a candidate for the job that eventually went to Showalter, and he has interviewed for numerous other managerial openings around baseball. Meanwhile, Murphy worked with Stearns in Milwaukee for seven seasons, and he interviewed for the Mets managerial position back in 2019. He could be a consolation prize of sorts if the Mets cannot tempt Counsell away from the Brewers. Finally, Budzinski doesn’t have as clear a connection to New York, but Scott Mitchell of TSN reports that he is in consideration for the job.
While Stearns previously claimed he was open to hiring a first-time manager, the fact that he’s limiting the search to external candidates might suggest he prefers someone with more experience. If that is true, several options will be available, including Counsell, former Giants and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, and Astros manager Dusty Baker, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Ultimately, however, the Mets remain tight-lipped about any and all candidates they’re considering for the position.