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Buck Showalter fired as New York Mets manager

NEW YORK (AP) — For the fifth time in six years, the New York Mets are in the market for a new manager.

Buck Showalter was fired Sunday after a disappointing season in which baseball’s highest-spending team tumbled from contention by midsummer.

The 67-year-old Showalter said before Sunday’s game against Philadelphia that he will not return next year, and a few minutes later the fourth-place Mets announced the team had decided on the change. New York entered 74-86 and 29 1/2 games behind NL East champion Atlanta.

“I was honored to get a chance to manage a second New York team. I’m proud of what the Mets did. We won close to 180 games in two years. Especially last year, as much fun as I’ve ever had in the game. It reminded me why I’ve always loved this kind of work,” said an emotional Showalter, who piloted the New York Yankees from 1992-95.

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“I wish things could have gone better this season because the Mets fans deserve that. In my heart, I always wonder what could have happened if this happened or that happened, but I try not to live in that world,” he added. “It’s not the ending I wanted, but I still love this city and the players.”

Showalter managed the Mets on Sunday at Citi Field. When he brought the lineup card to home plate before the game, players and coaches came out of the dugout to join fans in giving him a standing ovation. Showalter saluted them on his way back to the bench, and the scoreboard displayed his image with the message: “Thank You Buck.”

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On Monday, New York is expected to announce the hiring of David Stearns as president of baseball operations above general manager Billy Eppler, and Showalter’s departure with a year remaining on his three-year contract clears the way for Stearns to pick the next manager.

“We are heading in a new direction, with a new president of baseball operations and we let Buck know we’ll be parting ways. We will begin the search for a new manager immediately,” Mets owner Steve Cohen said in a statement.

“Buck is a generational manager, and we value what he has done for our team, including leading us to a 101-win season and postseason berth last year. The commitment and heart that Buck brings to the game will be felt by our organization for years to come.”

Showalter said Eppler came to his office Saturday night and they spoke about next year.

“Billy and the organization, in fairness to me, gave me the option of stepping aside or either — I don’t know, what else? I appreciate that. But the new leadership, they’re going to go in a different direction with the manager next year,” he said.

Showalter took over in December 2021 and led the Mets to a 101-61 record last season, when he was voted NL Manager of the Year. New York lost to San Diego in their wild-card series, then added three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to its pitching staff during the offseason. The Mets boosted their payroll to a record $355 million on opening day, but wound up dealing Verlander, Max Scherzer and several other veterans ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

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“As we look toward the next chapter for the New York Mets, we felt that making a managerial change was the right course of action,” Eppler said in a statement.

There’s already been speculation that Stearns will look to bring in Craig Counsell, who is in the final season of his contract as Milwaukee Brewers manager. Stearns led Milwaukee’s baseball operations department from September 2015 through the 2022 season before stepping down and moving into an advisory role.

Counsell has guided Milwaukee to five playoff appearances in the past six years, including a third NL Central title this season.

Other reports have indicated Counsell might want to take some time away from managing, with two sons playing college baseball in the Big Ten.

Showalter’s dismissal leaves the Mets searching for a manager for the fifth time since Terry Collins’ seven-year tenure ended in 2017. None of their past four lasted more than two seasons — Carlos Beltrán was let go without even managing a game, fallout from Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal in 2017.

Showalter entered Sunday with a 1,726-1,664 (.509) record in 22 seasons as a big league manager with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Orioles and Mets — guiding all those organizations to the playoffs besides Texas.

He’s won four Manager of the Year awards — tied with Hall of Famers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox for most all-time — and is the only skipper to win the prize with four different teams.

Showalter ranks 19th in major league history in wins, but Gene Mauch (1,902) is the only manager with more who never won a pennant.

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