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The Mets announced Sunday that manager Buck Showalter has been fired and will not return for the 2024 season. The news comes just a day before Milwaukee Brewers executive David Stearns will be officially installed as the Mets' new president of baseball operations. 

"We felt that making a managerial change was the right course of action," general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement.

Showalter, 67, was under contract through the 2024 season. Nevertheless, his announcement comes after he led the Mets to a 175-148 record over two years at the helm. That includes a 101-win effort last year. Alas, the Mets were eliminated in the Wild Card Series and then suffered through a disappointing 2023 that saw them fall out of contention before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

The Mets will now be on the market for their fourth skipper since the start of the 2019 season. Just who might that individual be? Below, CBS Sports has highlighted five potential candidates for the job. Bear in mind, this is little more than speculation at this point in the process.

1. Craig Counsell, Brewers manager

A Mets pursuit of Counsell has been speculated within the industry since Stearns agreed to a five-year deal to run New York's baseball operations department. The pair worked closely together in Milwaukee, of course, winning more than 53% of their regular season games and reaching the playoffs on five different occasions, including this year. Counsell, an impending free agent who has proven time and again that he can get the most from his rosters, is expected to be the most coveted manager on the market. 

2. Gabe Kapler, former Giants manager

Kapler was only recently dismissed from his post as Giants manager following a second-half collapse. Those in other front offices around the game were quick to note that he achieved more (54.3% winning percentage) with mediocre rosters in San Francisco than could have been reasonably expected. In that sense, Kapler can be compared to Counsell. In other senses, perhaps not so much. The end of Kapler's tenure saw him scrutinized for allowing the Giants to become too relaxed, to the extent that it negatively impacted their focus.

3. Ryan Flaherty, Padres bench coach

Flaherty is considered a rising star among coaches. He's been on the Mets radar since January 2022, when they attempted to interview him for their open bench-coach position. The Padres denied that request, citing the proximity to the start of the season. The wild-card factor here is that Flaherty would be an obvious candidate to succeed Bob Melvin if the Padres make their own change in the dugout. Of course, Melvin would then become a target for the Mets.

4. Joe Espada, Astros bench coach

Espada has been considered a future manager for some time now. To wit, the Mets even considered him a finalist for the job the last time they had managerial vacancy. (They ended up hiring Showalter instead.) Espada has served as Dusty Baker's right-hand man in recent years, and Baker's potential retirement could complicate matters if the Astros decide Espada is a worthy successor. 

5. Clayton McCullough, Dodgers first base coach

McCullough, the Dodgers' first-base coach for the last three seasons, has also interviewed with the Mets in the past. Additionally, he's taken part in the process with the Giants and Royals in recent years, suggesting that it's only a matter of time before he gets to run a team of his own. If the Mets still want to become the east-coast Dodgers, they can do worse than injecting some Dodgers DNA into their dugout.