Mets' Rojas: 'I will lead this team to success'

January 24th, 2020

NEW YORK -- When asked in the past about his managerial aspirations, Luis Rojas tended to shy away from grand proclamations. His pedigree was obvious as a member of baseball’s esteemed Alou-Rojas family. His resume was growing by the year, with experiences higher and higher on the Mets’ organizational ladder. Rojas, though, tried not to let his ambition cloud his present.

So he stayed quiet and patient, never publicly admitting his goals until Friday, when he slipped a No. 19 Mets jersey over his shoulders.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Rojas said. “To become the New York Mets manager, that was my dream. Standing here in front of you, I can share it with you now.”

Seeking stability in the wake of Carlos Beltrán’s departure from the organization, the Mets turned to Rojas, who joined them before the 2007 season. He quickly became a Minor League manager, overseeing future All-Stars Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and others, as he worked his way upward from Class A Advanced St. Lucie to Double-A Binghamton, then finally to the big league coaching staff last season. For that reason, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen continually called Friday “a proud day.”

“We get to promote one of our own to be the leader and face of our Major League team,” Van Wagenen said.

At 38, Rojas becomes the second-youngest manager in the Majors behind Rocco Baldelli, and the Mets’ first Dominican-born manager. Growing up, Rojas spent countless hours in the Expos' clubhouse alongside his father, manager Felipe Alou. He called his dad “my college, my university of baseball," but Rojas learned from his uncles as well, and his half-brother Moises, and so many others.

He learned outside his family, too, even if that’s a matter of semantics -- Rojas went out of his way to call the Mets his extended family, and for good reason. He has spent more than a third of his life working for them in various capacities. He started out doing grunt work as an entry-level employee. Over 13 seasons, he ascended to one of the most powerful positions in the organization. Few people on Earth know more about the inner workings of the Mets than Rojas.

“I don’t want to leave anything out that’s put me here where I am today,” Rojas said “I think every single thing has led to this, from conversations with my relatives to the experiences in the Minor Leagues and winter ball. There have been a couple of championships as a manager and as a coach. … Those are the things that we can employ and use for our team, as well.”

It is such familiarity that the Mets hope will allow Rojas to make a seamless transition to manager at a time when the Mets -- with three returning All-Stars, a new setup man, a powerful rotation and more -- hope to compete for a World Series title.

“We have a good team,” Van Wagenen said. “We have a collection of Major League players that are talented and built to win right now.”

Over the next few weeks, Rojas will continue -- not begin, but continue -- the process of preparing for the season, as Alonso, Jacob deGrom and other key Mets trickle into Spring Training. He will not have to introduce himself. He will not have to define his expectations. The Mets already know Rojas and what he represents.

They also understand his goals.

Said Rojas: “I will lead this team into success.”