When the Mets did their second search for executives this off-season, the potential candidacy of an experienced skipper had gained momentum since last time.
An industry source told The Post on Friday that Dusty Baker, who wasn't seriously considered for the job before Carlos Beltran was hired, is now part of the discussion among team officials who are forced to fill the position quickly.
Beltran became the youngest victim of Astros' illegal sign theft on Thursday when he separated from the Mets after only 77 working days. At the beginning of the week, A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora were displaced as managers after an MLB investigation in Houston and Boston, respectively. The investigation found that when they won the World Series in 2017, Astros stole catchers' signals using electronic surveillance. Beltran, a player on this team, was mentioned in the report, which led to his retirement from the Mets after team COO Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen met Commissioner Rob Manfred in the past few days.
The 70-year-old Baker was seen as an option last May when Van Wagenen flirted with the idea of firing manager Mickey Callaway during the season after a slow start. Callaway survived the season, but was released in October because his contract was still valid for one year, which led to an extensive search. Candidates for this search included Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Derek Shelton, Tim Bogar, Joe Girardi, Luis Rojas, Pat Murphy, and Tony DeFrancesco. Baker, who most recently finished with the Nationals in 2017, was not interviewed for this position. Now the Mets could change with the idea of calming the organization after the sudden departure of Beltran.
Girardi was the most successful candidate interviewed by the Mets, but he was hired by the Phillies (who also discussed the job with Baker and Buck Showalter) because Van Wagenen and his staff never felt comfortable with the former manager of Yankees ,
Baker, who has managed the Giants, Cubs, Reds and Nationals and has reached post-season with every team, is known as a strong presence and communicator and would immediately give credibility to a team that is expected to fight for the NL East title ,
Mets, Astros and Red Sox are planned with pitcher and catcher who will be reported for spring training over the next three and a half weeks to fill vacancies in management. Baker's name had previously appeared in connection with the opening of the Astros.
Although Van Wagenen may have concerns about leaving control to a proven manager like Baker, the GM is not afraid to fire a shot. And after a low season, when the Mets were relatively calm, Baker's attitude could be offered as the big maneuver.
But Van Wagenen and his lieutenants, which include special assistant Omar Minaya and assistant GM Allard Baird, are also very popular in Rojas, the coach for the quality control team. The Mets were also able to return to Perez, an ESPN analyst who was last second at Beltran.
Internally, bank trainer Hensley Meulens could be considered, along with the first base coach DeFrancesco, whose experience includes working temporarily as a manager at Astros in 2012. An industry source said it was doubtful whether the Mets would consider Terry Collins for the position. Collins, the longest-running manager in franchise history, has spent the past two seasons as a special assistant in the organization.