NEW YORK -- Though the Mets finished in fourth place in each of Terry Collins' first two seasons as manager, and are destined for no better than third place this year, few around Flushing blame Collins for that. Three years' worth of injuries decimated Collins' rosters. Trades further weakened his team. High-profile reinforcements never arrived.
So rather than punish Collins for his losing years, the Mets plan to reward him for his work in the face of adversity. The team is tentatively set to announce a two-year contract extension for its manager this Monday, according to multiple sources, with a club option for 2016. Collins' current deal was set to expire after this season.
The Mets have not commented on the deal because it is not official, though captain David Wright voiced his support of Collins on Saturday.
"With what he's been given as far as … some of the trades that we've made, some of the injuries that we've had, I think he's done a nice job of keeping everybody together, continuing to try to develop some of these younger players," Wright said. "It's well-deserving."
Guiding the Mets to consecutive fourth-place finishes in his first two seasons, Collins, 64, has posted a 224-261 (.461) record after Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Brewers. Still, general manager Sandy Alderson has made it clear he respects Collins' work with a shorthanded roster.
"I think I've been pretty open about my support of Terry," Alderson said earlier this week. "I think he's done an excellent job across the board with the talent that he's had, with the injuries that he's had to endure, with the other changes in personnel. I think he's handled all of those situations and individual events exceptionally well. On the other hand, we haven't won, and that's always an issue. But it's not always a result that can be pinned on the manager."
Since Collins became manager, the Mets have seen their payroll drop from more than $142 million in 2011 to just over $93 million this season. Though the Mets signed Wright and Jon Niese to long-term contract extensions, they also traded away Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez, R.A. Dickey and Marlon Byrd, and did not offer Jose Reyes a contract before he departed via free agency.
Those moves freed the Mets to acquire several of their brightest young talents, including pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. But they also stripped the team of any realistic shot at short-term competitiveness.
The Mets have long pointed to this offseason as the tipping point for their franchise, hinting that they will spend liberally on free agents now that Wheeler, d'Arnaud and other young players have made it to the big league level. In the interim, Alderson said recently he was pleased with Collins' stewardship of those prospects.
"I believe that he has that fire and that emotion that it does take," Wright said. "Especially with how young we are, he relates to the young players well and continues to motivate and teach, and that's what we need."
With an extension in place, New York will become Collins' lengthiest managerial stop. Before coming to the Mets, Collins managed the Astros from 1994-96 and the Angels from 1997-99, earning a reputation as a fiery -- sometimes even combative -- leader. After a bitter midseason resignation in Anaheim, Collins, who is 668-695 (.490) in nine seasons as a manger, spent time as the Dodgers' Minor League field coordinator, as well as manager of Japan's Orix Buffaloes. The Mets hired him as their own field coordinator in 2010, amid perception that he had mellowed.
Shortly after Alderson came aboard late that year, the GM hired Collins over a group of finalists including Wally Backman, Bob Melvin and Chip Hale.
"I've been in baseball for 42 years," Collins said after Saturday's game, declining to speak specifically about his contract. "This is what I do. This is what I enjoy. This is the fun part of the game to compete every night. When you're my age, you walk in there and those guys -- you look around, you hang around them and it keeps you young. So it would be a blast. But we'll wait till the end of the year to smile about it."