Following a frustrating weekend that saw the Padres refuse an interview with quality control coach Ryan Flaherty and Reds planning and outfield coach Jeff Pickler remove himself from consideration, the Mets’ search for a bench coach hit another snag on Monday. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports, the Giants have denied the Mets’ request to interview pitching coach Andrew Bailey to be new manager Buck Showalter’s deputy.
Following Bailey's retirement ahead of the 2018 season, Mets GM Billy Eppler, then with the Angels, gave the 37-year-old — who pitched for the A’s, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, and Angels in a career that spanned eight seasons and was named the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year while serving as Oakland’s closer — his first coaching job, hiring him as the Angels’ replay coordinator and coaching assistant in 2018 before promoting him to bullpen coach in 2019. The Giants then hired Bailey as their pitching coach ahead of the 2020 season. He coached San Francisco’s staff to a 3.25 ERA in 2021 (second only to the Dodgers) en route to a 107-win season and an NL West title.
While teams customarily allow coaching and front-office staff to interview with other clubs when they’re up for a promotion — which made the Flaherty news something of a surprise — it isn’t exactly clear that a move from pitching coach to bench coach would represent a ’promotion’ as such (Rosenthal notes that executive opinion is mixed on the issue). Timing may have also played a role in the decision; big-league coaching staffs are usually filled out relatively early in the offseason, and Rosenthal previously reported that the Padres denied the Mets a chance to speak with Flaherty largely because they didn’t want to have to find a replacement at this stage in the offseason.
Of course, the Mets’ attempts to fill out their coaching staff were held back by delays at the top, with Eppler’s hiring coming on Nov. 18 (fewer than two weeks ahead of the lockout) and Showalter’s on Dec. 20. They’ve since hired three additional coaches — Wayne Kirby as first base coach, Joey Cora as third base coach, and Eric Chávez as hitting coach — but only Chávez had been tied to another organization (the Yankees let him interview for the job only a few weeks after hiring him as an assistant hitting coach). Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is the lone holdover from the 2021 staff.
Despite the chaos in putting together a coaching staff, Eppler has hit the ground running on the player side, inking Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar to free agent deals worth a combined $254 million in the days leading up to the lockout while Noah Syndergaard, Javier Baez, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz signed elsewhere. Indeed, having endured a second-half collapse and watching the division rival Braves ride a late-season surge to a World Series title, Mets fans will hope Eppler’s offseason isn’t finished regardless of the composition of the coaching staff. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco taps Kris Bryant, Carlos Rodón and NPB star Seiya Suzuki as potential targets once a new CBA is reached.