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Mark Teixeira: Mets candidate Buck Showalter the ‘smartest man in baseball’

Mark Teixeira has a history with New York Mets managerial candidate — and presumed front-runner for the job — Buck Showalter from his playing days, and the three-time All-Star showered the veteran skipper with praise in an interview this week.

Teixeira made his MLB debut in 2003 with the Texas Rangers during Showalter’s first season running the team’s dugout and spent four seasons playing for the manager. The slugger came away from their time together in Texas impressed with Showalter’s baseball acumen and the steady way in which he oversaw the team.

“I think Buck Showalter is the smartest man in baseball, and that is not hyperbole,” Teixeira told the New York Post this week. “When you sit down and talk to Buck about the game, he is just so sharp looking at it from all different angles and his record speaks for itself and there is not a more prepared manager as well. You take his intelligence and his preparation and I think he’s a great manager. Just look at what he’s done with so many franchises, building them up from the bottom.”

Teixeira went on to say how Showalter truly has an “open-door policy,” which many managers claim to follow but don’t necessarily operate in such a manner.

Showalter, 65, also is saddled with the perception that he’s as an old-school manager not well-versed in analytics and other modern approaches to the game. Teixeira argued that Showalter is capable of adapting to integrate such things into his managerial style.

“I didn’t think that until I saw what Dusty Baker has done with the Astros,” Teixeira said. “Any smart baseball guy like Dusty or Buck is going to realize there is absolutely a place for analytics. At the same time, the 40-plus years of experience Buck has in professional baseball, he is going to rely on that, too. I think meshing those two together like Dusty has with the Astros is a really good place.”

Showalter interviewed with Mets brass last week, and the veteran skipper made a great first impression that left him widely viewed as the favorite for the job. As the Mets move into the final round of interviews, Showalter is joined by Joe Espada and Matt Quatraro as the three remaining candidates.

Interestingly enough, Teixeira is also familiar with Espada, as he served as the Yankees’ third-base coach during the slugger’s final two MLB seasons. Teixeira referred to the 46-year-old Espada, who has spent the past four seasons as bench coach for the Houston Astros, as “new school,” adding everyone “loved” working with him.

Formalities of remaining interviews and vetting aside, the word is a Showalter hiring “feels almost inevitable,” per SNY’s Andy Martino, and “folks in the industry are convinced Showalter is getting the job unless something goes horribly wrong in final stages.”