Steve Cohen nears Mets’ manager decision after completing interviews

After nearly two weeks of interviews for their managerial vacancy, decision time has reached the Mets.

The three finalists for the job have all received an audience with owner Steve Cohen, leaving team brass with what could be a quick resolution on a hire. Buck Showalter became the last of the three finalists to receive a second interview, according to sources, meeting Friday with Cohen at his Greenwich, Conn., estate.

A decision could come as soon as this weekend. Cohen, his wife Alex, general manager Billy Eppler and team president Sandy Alderson are among those involved in the process. Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Astros bench coach Joe Espada are the other finalists for the job.

The 65-year-old Showalter entered his Friday interview as a strong favorite for the job based on his 20 seasons of major league managerial experience and resume that includes New York experience, with the Yankees. But a source termed Quatraro and Espada as “very solid” candidates who impressed Cohen.

Steve Cohen has finished his second round interviews with managerial finalists Buck Showalter (top right), Joe Espada (bottom right) and Matt Quatraro (bottom left).
AP (2), Getty, Bill Kostroun

Quatraro had a particularly strong interview, according to a source, in which he conveyed a fierce desire to win and belief in his ability to handle a clubhouse. The 48-year-old Quatraro has also interviewed for Oakland’s managerial opening. In recent offseasons he’s also interviewed with the Tigers, Pirates and Giants for managerial openings.

As candidates well-versed in analytics, Quatraro and Espada could be more attractive to the front office than the old-school Showalter. But ultimately Steve Cohen and Alex Cohen will have the most say in who is chosen as Luis Rojas’ replacement. The Showalter fan club includes Max Scherzer, who according to a source “really likes” the former Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles manager. The 37-year-old Scherzer last month arrived on a three-year contract worth $130 million, only reinforcing that the Mets are a “win now” team – which also seems to correlate with a battle-tested manager.

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Espada, 46, also has interviewed for Oakland’s managerial vacancy. His past considerations have included the Rangers and Cubs, both of whom interviewed him in recent offseasons for managerial openings. Espada worked as a special assistant and later third base coach with the Yankees when Eppler was the team’s assistant GM.

The Mets’ initial list of candidates included former Tigers and Angels manager Brad Ausmus, Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren and Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough, all of whom interviewed on a Zoom call with Eppler and his staff. Another candidate, Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, withdrew before interviewing. The second round, involving Cohen, started Tuesday. Those interviews were conducted in late afternoon/early evening, after the financial markets had closed, allowing Cohen to maintain his focus on his day job running the investment firm Point72.

Showalter would bring a celebrity element to the position that the Mets haven’t seen since Bobby Valentine managed the team two decades ago. He also would break a string of first-timers hired by the Mets that includes Mickey Callaway, Carlos Beltran and Rojas, following Terry Collins’ departure after the 2017 season. Showalter, since leaving the Orioles following the 2018 season, has interviewed for managerial openings with the Phillies and Angels. He has kept himself visible as an analyst on MLB Network and YES.

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