The new Mets are keeping the old manager, for at least next year.
Team president Sandy Alderson said Monday that he was retaining Luis Rojas as manager, something he previously only committed to being “very likely.”
“I’m very happy Luis is coming back, from a personal standpoint and a professional one,” Alderson said.
Rojas, 39, was the first Latino man to manage the Mets. He was the second hired to do so, replacing Carlos Beltran, who was fired less than three months after his hiring because of his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal as a player.
New owner Steve Cohen said at his introductory press conference that his goal was to win a title within three to five years, although Alderson slightly pumped the brakes on that Monday. “I don’t think we’re a player away,” Alderson said. “I think we need more than that.”
Alderson hinted that the front office would give Rojas more of a “roadmap” common in other organizations for in-game decision-making. He also tweaked the Wilpon-era Mets’ famously threadbare analytics department.
“As a person who’s able to relate to his players, both in terms of their professional work, I think he’s exceptional,” Alderson said of Rojas Monday.
“I think that on the professional side, managing a game, he will be better. We need to make sure that he has all the necessary resources to be better and make good decisions, based not only on his own judgment but information that’s available. He’s very open to that.”
The Mets went 26-34 in his first season as manager, missing the playoffs despite an expanded postseason field, but Rojas’ reputation escaped largely unscathed. Mets players supported Rojas and praised his ability to communicate throughout his rookie year, as Dominic Smith noted he would “run through a wall” for the skipper.
Alderson is unconcerned about a potential conflict between Rojas and the Mets’ still-unknown GM. Ideally, a baseball GM picks his/her own manager. In recent years, Brodie Van Wagenen replaced Alderson as GM while the Mets kept manager Mickey Callaway for the 2019 season. In 2020, Van Wagenen picked his own manager in Beltran before he was forced to replace him with Rojas due to the aforementioned Astros scandal.
The team president said he spoke to all six of his GM candidates about the possibility that Rojas would return in 2021, and “without exception” all interviewees agreed that was the right decision “under the circumstances.”
“The issue has been broached and I’m comfortable that this is not a shotgun marriage that will occur,” Alderson said.
The Mets have not yet named the remainder of Rojas’ coaching staff — including whether current members like pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, hitting coach Chili Davis or bench coach Hensley Meulens will return. Alderson said the Mets’ coaching staff should be finalized in the next couple of weeks.