Leading candidates in Mets' manager search

January 17th, 2020

NEW YORK -- The timeline may be compressed, now that the Mets have weeks instead of months to find a new manager, but the process remains the same. Asked Thursday what qualities he’s seeking in a leader in the wake of Carlos Beltrán’s exit, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen responded: “I don’t think the values that we’re looking for have changed.”

“This team is one that we believe in,” Van Wagenen continued. “This team is one that we believe can contend, and we want to make sure that we have the right support system around them to achieve their success.”

Those words would seem to indicate the Mets might not cast quite as wide a net this time, preferring to focus on candidates who intrigued them back in October. Having just gone through this process three months ago, the Mets are hopeful they can hire a manager quickly -- and they have plenty of incentive, with the official start of Spring Training less than a month away.

With all that in mind, here’s a look at some names that could entice:

Internal candidates

Luis Rojas
Rojas would be able to engineer the most seamless transition possible. He’s the only managerial candidate the Mets interviewed in November from their own coaching staff, and he’s spent the past two months working alongside Beltrán to prepare for this season. A member of the well-regarded Alou family (son of Felipe and brother of Moises), the 38-year-old Rojas has plenty of Minor League managerial experience, is popular in the clubhouse and is widely considered a future big league manager. The downside is that he has spent only one season on a big league staff, giving him much less experience than some other names on this list.

Tony DeFrancesco
The Mets thought enough of DeFrancesco to promote him from Triple-A Syracuse manager to big league first-base coach under Beltrán. Also popular among Mets who played under him in the Minors, DeFrancesco interviewed for the manager’s job in November but was not a finalist. He actually has a bit of managerial experience, serving as an interim in Houston in 2012.

Hensley Meulens
Beltrán’s choice for bench coach, Meulens spent a decade working on Bruce Bochy’s coaching staff in San Francisco, where he had a first-hand look at one of the most successful managers in recent baseball history. Mets officials were excited about the hire of Meulens, who speaks five languages and was a runner-up for the Yankees job that went to Aaron Boone in 2018. Meulens may also be a candidate for the Red Sox’s managerial vacancy.

Terry Collins
Full disclosure: this one almost certainly won’t happen. The Mets could have asked Collins to become Beltrán’s bench coach back in November, and they passed. To turn around and name him manager would require a complete reversal in thinking. That said, if the Mets decide that experience matters in the wake of Beltrán’s exit, no one on the current payroll boasts more of it than Collins. He’s one of only three Mets managers this century to guide his team to the playoffs.

External candidates

Eduardo Perez
Perez was the runner-up to Beltrán the first time around. He’s charismatic, popular and would almost certainly handle the media responsibilities of the job with ease -- no small task in the pressure-cooker of New York. Perez offers a complete resume, with experience as a player, a manager in Puerto Rico, a Major League coach and a front-office employee. But, like several others on this list, he doesn’t have any Major League managing experience.

Tim Bogar
Another finalist for the job that went to Beltrán, Bogar just won a World Series ring with the Nationals. He has past ties to the Red Sox, making him a potential candidate there as well. Like DeFrancesco, he also has experience as an interim manager, serving in that role in Texas. The Nationals recently promoted Bogar to bench coach, however, perhaps incentivizing him to stay.

Joe McEwing
A finalist in 2017 for the job that went to Mickey Callaway, McEwing has always been hugely popular amongst Mets fans since playing for the team from 2000-'04. He’s extremely close with David Wright, who is now an advisor in the Mets’ front office, and he has ties to the Northeast after playing high school ball in Eastern Pennsylvania and college ball in New Jersey. He also has loads of experience, both as a Minor League manager and a White Sox coach. The Mets didn’t appear to give McEwing a long look back in November, but if they pursue anyone who wasn’t a prime candidate at that time, McEwing may make the most sense.

Buck Showalter, Dusty Baker, etc.
Lumping together the highly experienced managers out there may seem like glossing over them, but the Mets never really pursued them back in November. Van Wagenen’s comments Thursday seemed to indicate nothing has changed in that regard, so it appears unlikely the Mets will suddenly have interest in Showalter, Baker or anyone else in the “decades of experience” category. Still, for as long as they're unemployed, they will have backers.