ST. PETERSBURG — Given their success at every level of the organization and their innovative approach to winning on a budget, the Rays’ coaches and staff are often in demand this time of year. This winter is no different.
The Mets formally requested permission to interview Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro for their managerial opening, a source confirmed to MLB.com, and he will be granted permission to interview. The clubs have not confirmed the news, which was first reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney, but it comes as no surprise to see Quatraro receive consideration for one of the Majors’ two vacant managerial posts.
Quatraro, 48, interviewed for the Giants job that went to Gabe Kapler and was a finalist for the Pirates job that went to Derek Shelton. He also reportedly spoke with the Tigers before they elected to hire manager A.J. Hinch. Quatraro has earned respect from players and coaches as a smart, experienced baseball man and a good communicator, and he’s been on two-time American League Manager of the Year Kevin Cash’s staff for four consecutive winning seasons with Tampa Bay.
New Mets general manager Billy Eppler is looking to hire a replacement for Luis Rojas, and Quatraro is on the list of possible candidates that also includes Brad Ausmus, Joe Espada, Eric Chávez, Don Kelly, Buck Showalter and Carlos Beltrán.
Quatraro has spent the last three seasons as the Rays’ bench coach after serving as their third-base coach for one year. Before that, he worked as Cleveland’s assistant hitting coach for four seasons under manager Terry Francona. Quatraro has spent 26 seasons in professional baseball — 22 in the Rays’ organization; 18 as a coach, manager or instructor; and eight as a Major League coach.
Born in Albany, N.Y., Quatraro played parts of seven seasons in the Minors for Tampa Bay, working primarily as a catcher and topping out at Triple-A Durham while hitting .286 from 1996-2002. He was the club’s first Minor League player to join the organization’s coaching staff in 2004, when he first served as a Minor League catching instructor before becoming the hitting coach for Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley. He managed for four seasons, going from Hudson Valley (2006-07) to Columbus (‘08) to Bowling Green (’09), then spent four years (2010-13) as the Rays’ Minor League hitting coordinator.
Two of the Rays’ last three bench coaches have gone on to become Major League managers, and Quatraro could follow the path of Dave Martinez (Nationals) and Charlie Montoyo (Blue Jays) in that regard.
The list of current Major League managers with recent Rays connections is significant: the Angels’ Joe Maddon (former manager), the Nationals’ Martinez, the Blue Jays’ Montoyo, the Giants’ Kapler (former player/special assignment scout), the Pirates’ Shelton (former hitting coach) and the Twins’ Rocco Baldelli (former player/coach). It’s hardly a shock that another club would be interested in at least speaking to a member of Cash’s staff, especially one held in high regard like Quatraro.
This offseason, the Rays have lost former first-base coach Ozzie Timmons to the Brewers (as their co-head hitting coach), former Minor League hitting coordinator Greg Brown to the Cubs (as hitting coach) and former decision science director Ani Kilambi to the Phillies (as assistant general manager).