NEW YORK (AP) — Terry Collins is set to stay with the New York Mets as they attempt to build a winner.
Three people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday that Collins is close to an agreement to remain manager. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized and no announcement had been made. Collins’ current contract expires after this season, his third in charge of the Mets.
The team is expected to announce an extension for Collins at a news conference Monday. He is nearing a two-year contract, one of the people said, perhaps with a team option for 2016.
“It would be a blast,” Collins said. “But again, we will wait ’til the end of the year to smile about it.”
The move comes as no surprise. Though general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets have publicly maintained they would wait until the conclusion of the season to determine Collins’ fate, it became increasingly clear late in the year that he likely would return.
Fielding an inexperienced lineup depleted by injuries and trades, the 64-year-old Collins has kept the Mets competitive down the stretch without most of his top players.
“If it happens, it’s well-deserved,” team captain David Wright said after a 4-2 loss in 10 innings to Milwaukee. “If you look at the players he’s had to manage and the trades and injuries he’s had to endure, he’s done a nice job. Obviously we aren’t where we want to be as a team, but that’s not an indication of his job. We have a young team and Terry provides the fire. … It is a really good fit.”
Wright recently missed seven weeks with a strained hamstring and All-Star ace Matt Harvey was shut down Aug. 26 with a partially torn ligament in his pitching elbow that put his status for next season in jeopardy.
First baseman Ike Davis (oblique) and closer Bobby Parnell (neck surgery) also are sidelined. Right fielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck, two of New York’s best run producers, were traded to Pittsburgh for a pair of prospects on Aug. 27.
“We said in spring training, from the first day: Look, we’re not real deep, so one thing we could not have were injuries,” Collins said Friday. “We had to play through it. We did. We’ve hung in there. But the frustration is we couldn’t keep our good players out there.”
Second baseman Daniel Murphy is the only opening day regular to make it through the entire season. Still, the Mets haven’t quit on the field.
They went 5-1 on their final trip, taking two of three at playoff-bound Cincinnati to knock the wild-card Reds out of contention for the NL Central title.
“They’ve hung in there through all the adversity,” Collins said. “They competed every game and hung in there. It’s been fun to watch.”
Collins is 224-261 as manager of the Mets with one game remaining this season. A new deal would give him an opportunity to see through the rebuilding project he jumped into a few years ago.
Despite struggling to their fifth consecutive losing season since moving into Citi Field, the Mets have started to generate some legitimate hope for the future.
Harvey and Zack Wheeler have impressed on the mound, the first to arrive from a crop of touted young pitchers New York is banking on down the road. Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese appear dependable.
With more than $40 million in player salaries coming off the books after this season, the Mets expect to be active in free agency. They have question marks all over the diamond, but youngsters such as catcher Travis d’Arnaud and center fielder Juan Lagares show promise.
The club has long targeted 2014 for a return to playoff contention — though Harvey’s injury is potentially a major setback. The right-hander hopes to avoid elbow ligament-replacement surgery with a throwing and strengthening program.
“We’ve got something to build on,” Alderson said Friday night during an in-game interview on SNY. “I’ve always felt from when I arrived here through about this point with some expiration of contracts, that we needed to acquire and develop talent, we had to unfortunately manage our payroll and, at the same time, we had to win some games. Probably in that order of priority. I think going into next season that order changes.”
New York finished fourth in the NL East in each of Collins’ first two seasons and is third this year at 73-88.
The fiery Collins also managed the Houston Astros from 1994-96 and the Anaheim Angels from 1997-99, compiling a winning record and a second-place finish in each of those seasons but the last one.
He joined the Mets as a minor league field coordinator in 2010 and was hired as manager in November of that year, about a month after Alderson took over as GM. Collins originally was given a two-year contract with a team option for 2013, which the Mets exercised in September 2011.
FoxSports.com and ESPNNewYork.com were among the media outlets who first reported Saturday that the sides were close to a new deal.