Although we are in the midst of MLB's first lockout since 1994, which has frozen all free agent negotiations and player transactions until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, teams are still allowed to make managerial and coaching hires in the meantime.
Fortunately for the Mets and Oakland Athletics, the lone two clubs that are in need of a manager, they can embark on their search for a clubhouse commander during the work stoppage.
The Mets have compiled a wide list of names and they are expected to begin the interview process in the near future, as GM Billy Eppler revealed on Wednesday.
According to Eppler, the plan was to discuss the front office's preferred criteria with team owner Steve Cohen by Thursday, Dec. 2.
"I've had a couple different volleys already with Sandy [Alderson] on the subject," Eppler said. "It's coming through and we'll start the process of actually formally interviewing people very soon."
And as SNY's Andy Martino reported on Friday, Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada is among the candidates the Mets are considering for the managerial chair.
Espada, 46, has familiarity with Eppler, serving as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman back in 2014. Eppler of course, was Cashman's assistant GM during this time.
The following season, Espada moved to an assistant coaching role on the Yankees' staff before leaving to become the Astros' bench coach in 2018, a position he has held ever since.
Espada is considered to be a hot managerial candidate around the game. And ironically, he was drafted in the second-round of the 1996 MLB Draft by then GM Sandy Alderson, who is now the Mets' team president.
As for additional candidates, there has been a ton of speculation that Buck Showalter could wind up with the Mets. Showalter, 65, has not managed since 2018 with the Baltimore Orioles, which was his ninth-and-final season with the club.
Showalter has a total of 20-years of managerial experience and is a three-time AL Manager of the Year recipient. His overall record as a manager is 1,551-1,517 and he has made the postseason five times.
During Eppler's previous tenure as GM of the Los Angeles Angels, Showalter was his preferred hire, but owner Arte Moreno chose Joe Maddon instead.
SNY went onto report that the Mets’ early list includes: Espada, Showalter, ex-Tigers and Angels manager Brad Ausmus, Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Don Kelly.
On an additional note, Eppler stated that whoever they hire as manager will have significant latitude to make daily lineup and in-game adjustments.
While the Mets continue to build out their analytics department, Eppler said this data will be used as a road map, and it is up to the coaching staff to adjust to real-time scenarios.