Yankee influence runs deep in NL East as Buck Showalter takes over star-studded Mets


The New York Mets' hiring of Buck Showalter as manager on Saturday adds more New York Yankees influence to the National League East.

Three of the five managers in the division now have significant history with the Yankees.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi won three World Series rings with the Yankees as a player and another as their manager from 2008-2017.

Miami Marlins skipper Don Mattingly was a star player for the Yankees from 1983-1995 and his No. 23 is retired by the club.

Showalter managed the Yankees from 1992-1995. He helped build some of the foundation on which the Yankees' World Series dynasty of 1996-2001 was built. 

The Yankee influence extends even beyond the manager's office in the division.

Rob Thomson was a longtime member of the Yankees' player development and big-league coaching staff before joining the Phillies as bench coach in 2018. Phillies scouting director Brian Barber was a high-ranking member of the Yankees' scouting staff before coming to Philadelphia in the fall of 2019. He has presided over the team's last two drafts. Preston Mattingly is just getting started as the Phillies' director of player development. Though he has spent much of his time in baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers (as a minor-league player) and San Diego Padres (as a front-office man), he does have Yankee lineage through his dad, the Marlins' skipper.

In Miami, Don Mattingly works for CEO and part owner Derek Jeter, whose Yankee ties need no introduction, and general manager Kim Ng, formerly of the Yankees front office. Marlins director of player development Gary Denbo is a former Yankees hitting instructor and head of player development.


Showalter received a three-year deal from the Mets, who are banking on experience after playing to a third-place finish under Luis Rojas in 2021. 

The Phillies went for experience when they hired Girardi after letting Gabe Kapler go after the 2019 season. Showalter and Dusty Baker were finalists for the Phillies job that went to Girardi. Baker landed with Houston and helped that club get to the World Series in 2021. Kapler landed quickly on his feet in San Francisco, led the Giants to a majors-best 107 wins in 2021, was named NL Manager of the Year and earned a contract extension.

Meanwhile, Girardi, with zero playoff appearances in two years with the Phillies, enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2022. The contract contains a club option for 2023 but president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has indicated that he's in no rush to exercise the option, which, at the very least, makes Girardi's seat warm heading into the new season.

Showalter is 65. He's managed the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles and never gotten to a World Series, though the Yanks and D-Backs won it the year after he left. He steps into a very good situation in Queens. The Mets owner, Steve Cohen, is the richest in baseball and he's pulling out all the stops -- the team's payroll projects to be over $250 million in 2022 -- to win now. 

Cohen signed shortstop Francisco Lindor to a $341 million contract extension last season and headlined a spending spree last month by giving three-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer a three-year, $130 million contract. The average annual value of that deal is $43 million, dwarfing Gerrit Cole's previous AAV high of $36 million. The Mets also signed Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar before the lockout. And, let's not forget, they have two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom coming back from injury.

Showalter was fired by Arizona after the 2000 season so he wasn't around when Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling led that club to the World Series title in 2001. If healthy, Scherzer and deGrom could do for the Mets what Johnson and Schilling did for that Arizona club. The last two full-season World Series champions (Washington in 2019 and Atlanta in 2021) have come out of the NL East. Showalter might have a club that could follow suit in 2022. Certainly, the Mets will be tough in the NL East, a division with a distinct Yankee feel.

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