For the past three years, former Orioles manager Buck Showalter has waited for a return to the dugout. With the hiring of Billy Eppler as the New York Mets general manager, he could get that chance.
Showalter managed the Orioles for 1,353 games from 2010-2018, the second most in franchise history. His 1,551 wins with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles are the 24th most in baseball history. He hasn’t managed in the World Series, and he’d love to get that opportunity.
Eppler was named as Mets general manager on Thursday, and he and Showalter know each other. Eppler, who at 46 is 19 years younger than the 65-year-old Showalter, was in the New York Yankees’ organization, but that was after Showalter was gone.
They got to know each other late in 2019 when Showalter interviewed with the Los Angeles Angels for the managerial job that Joe Maddon got. Reportedly, Eppler, then the Angels’ GM, was impressed enough with Showalter to recommend that owner Arte Moreno hire him. But the owner, who wanted Brad Ausmus out after one season, chose Maddon.
Eppler could consider Ausmus, who also managed the Detroit Tigers, as well as other candidates.
Showalter, who was fired by the Orioles in October 2018, talked with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2019,. The Phillies had a number of people Showalter worked with in Baltimore. Team president Andy MacPhail hired Showalter in July 2010. Then-general manager Matt Klentak also was fond of Showalter, but he opted for Joe Girardi, who tangled with the Orioles regularly as manager of the Yankees.
In January 2020, Showalter got a call from Houston Astros owner Jim Crane after the Astros fired A.J. Hinch because of the electronic sign-stealing scandal. Showalter was passed over for Dusty Baker, who took the Astros to the World Series this past season.
Showalter knows that he’s no sure thing with the Mets. Teams are hiring younger, more inexperienced managers. There are, however, four managers older than Showalter: Chicago’s Tony La Russa, who came back in 2021 after 10 years away, is 77; Baker, who’s 72; Maddon, 67; and Atlanta’s Brian Snitker, who just won a World Series at 66.
The St. Louis Cardinals recently hired Oliver Marmol at 35, the age Showalter was when he began managing the Yankees in 1992.
If Showalter manages again, he’ll want a strong relationship with the team’s general manager and owner. In Baltimore, he maintained strong ties with Peter Angelos, but his relationship with vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was a tension-filled one.
Showalter will have to convince Eppler and Mets owner Steve Cohen, who enjoys the limelight and is not shy about sharing his thoughts on Twitter, that he can work with them and a clubhouse full of egos.
The Mets have a star shortstop, Francisco Lindor, who had a rough first season in New York after signing a 10-year, $341 million contract. Showalter would want to build a strong relationship with him, too.
In Baltimore, Showalter prided himself on his relationships with the team’s stars — J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters.
Showalter is old-school, though he has said he welcomes analytical input. Perhaps the success of La Russa, who has urged him to return to managing, Baker and Snitker will work in Showalter’s favor.
For the last two years, the Mets were managed by Luis Rojas, who hadn’t managed in the big leagues and can’t match Showalter’s personality.
While he has waited, Showalter has kept his profile up with regular appearances on the MLB Network and YES Network, commenting on the Yankees. He has kept up with the game while spending time with his four grandsons.
Teams Showalter has managed generally improved quickly after he took over, and the Mets, who finished 77-85, 11 ½ games behind the Braves, won’t be afraid to spend on free agents in an effort to win now.
Even though Showalter has managed just three of his 20 seasons in the National League, the NL East would quickly become familiar. Girardi, and Showalter’s longtime third base coach, Bobby Dickerson, are with the Phillies. The Miami Marlins are managed by his longtime teammate and friend, Don Mattingly, and the Braves’ championship run made them familiar throughout the game.
Showalter could be free to form a coaching staff in New York. Only pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is assured of a return. Longtime Showalter associates John Russell, his bench coach and catching instructor, and Wayne Kirby, his first base and outfield coach, are among those available.
Russell has been coaching at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and Kirby was let go by the San Diego Padres last month.
If Oriole fans would like to see Showalter one more time in Camden Yards, that might not happen. The Orioles and Mets aren’t scheduled to meet again until 2024.
Showalter’s Orioles were a compelling team to cover and watching him get a final shot with the Mets is an intriguing thought, and one to watch in the coming days.
Notes: According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, former Orioles catcher Pedro Severino has agreed to a $1.9 million one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, pending a physical. Severino could earn up to $400,000 in incentives. … Collin Murray has joined the Orioles organization as a development coach. He most recently spent five months with Detroit as a baseball information analyst.