Mickey Callaway and Gabe Kapler were hired just a week apart to be first-time managers for division rivals. Two years later, their firings could be just as intertwined.
On Thursday, the Mets dismissed Callaway, who had managed the Mets to a .503 winning percentage (163-161) over two seasons after being hired in October 2017. The Phillies hired Kapler later that month and have spent the first week of the offseason debating whether he will return in 2020.
Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said on a conference call that the team was not “playing October baseball and that’s what it’s about.” John Middleton, the Phillies owner who is desperate for his team to win again, could convey a similar message if the Phillies decide to move on from Kapler, who has a .497 winning percentage (161-163) over two seasons.
The Mets won 86 games this season, finished five games ahead of the Phillies, and were in the wild-card picture until the final weeks of the season. But Callaway’s time always felt limited once the Mets hired Brodie Van Wagenen before the season as general manager. Eventually, the GM would want his own manager.
The vacancy in Queens is the seventh managerial job to open this offseason, meaning the Phillies will have some competition for candidates if they decide to move on from Kapler. The Angels, Cubs, Pirates, Giants, Royals, and Padres are looking for managers.
The Mets job could be attractive. The team has a strong starting rotation and a cast of young hitters, led by rookie sensation Pete Alonso.
Callaway, 44, was a successful pitching coach with Cleveland before joining the Mets, and he should have little trouble finding work this offseason. The Phillies, who will likely be in the market for a new pitching coach, could be a suitor.
Wilpon and Van Wagenen flew to Florida to tell Callaway at his home that he was fired. The Phillies have yet to inform Kapler of his status for next season, but they won’t have to book a flight. He’s in his office, working in the bowels of the stadium, and waiting to find out.