Sandy Alderson

UPDATE: Mets complete first round of interviews for manager

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UPDATE: The Wally Backman campaign is still alive and kicking, for some reason. According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Backman has made it through to the second round of interviews for the Mets’ manager job.

The rest of the field played out as expected, as Terry Collins, Bob Melvin and Chip Hale are the other finalists, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today that he hopes to name a manager by Thanksgiving.

Hey, at least Craig can still have some more fun with this whole process.

7:21 PM: It’s done. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson confirmed to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com just a short while ago that he has completed the first round of interviews for the team’s managerial vacancy.

“The first round is officially closed,” Alderson said. “We hope to bring back several candidates over the balance of this week. If everything goes as we hope, we could have the second round completed by the end of the week. There won’t need to be a Round 3. … I would say right now that it’s very possible we’d have a manager announced by Thanksgiving.”

Alderson did not acknowledge that a front-runner for the job existed, but Rubin expects that Terry Collins, Bob Melvin and Chip Hale will all likely receive second interviews. “Organizational sources” tell Rubin that Collins is the favorite, with Melvin as the most likely alternative.

Right on cue, Ken Davidoff of New York Newsday reports that the Mets have informed Hale that he is a finalist for the job. Hale just completed his first season as third base and infield coach with the club. He would likely stay with the organization if the Mets ultimately settle on Collins or Melvin.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.