NEW YORK -- The Mets’ decision to decline their 2022 option on Luis Rojas’ contract has left them with a managerial vacancy for the third time in the last five offseasons. It’s not a job they expect to fill within the next couple of weeks, because the team must first hire a president of baseball operations to make the hire.
It is nonetheless an important role that will shape the future of the organization. Here’s a look at the various aspects Mets officials will consider:
Who will make this hire?
Team president Sandy Alderson made it clear last week that if he ousted Rojas from the manager’s chair, he would not be the one to name a replacement. Instead, Alderson and owner Steve Cohen plan to hire a president of baseball operations, who will make that decision.
The fact that the club has barely begun the process of finding that executive makes it difficult to project the identity of the new manager. If the Mets manage to pry A’s executive vice president Billy Beane away from Oakland, for example, then his longtime manager Bob Melvin would become an obvious candidate -- and so on and so forth for various other executives.
(For what it’s worth, when Beane was asked about the Mets’ job Monday, his answer was not “no.”)
The president of baseball operations decision is likely to take place in late October or early November, at which point New York’s managerial search will become significantly clearer.
What qualities will the Mets be looking for in a hire?
It’s easy to say “experience” here, considering the team’s last three hires -- Mickey Callaway, Carlos Beltrán and Rojas -- were all first-time managers whose tenures ended in disappointment. Many around the team believe a seasoned hand is exactly what the Mets need to steady the organization, which has underperformed despite a strong core of talent in recent seasons. But experience is not necessarily a prerequisite for the job. Of the 10 teams that qualified for this year’s postseason, seven employ managers who were first-timers (full-time) when hired.
If the Mets do seek experience, Melvin (who is under contract with the A’s and thus would require a trade) would be an obvious name to consider, as would veterans Buck Showalter and Ron Washington, who are not currently managing.
Would the Mets consider hiring from within?
Probably not. The team is seeking wholesale change to its operations this winter; hiring even a deserving candidate from within the organization would go against that philosophy. As such, it’s unlikely the Mets dip into their Major League or player development staffs to find their next skipper.
What about those with previous Mets ties?
That’s always a consideration. One name that comes up in every Mets managerial search is Joe McEwing, now a longtime White Sox coach. A popular bench player from 2000-04 who served as David Wright’s mentor early in his career, McEwing last interviewed for the Mets’ top dugout job in '17. He did not do so when the team ultimately hired Beltrán before the '20 season, but McEwing could be interested again. He would be a popular choice with fans, particularly if he helps Chicago play deep into October.
The other name worth mentioning is Beltrán himself. It was mostly public pressure that led the Mets to part ways with Beltrán shortly after hiring him, following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Astros’ sign-stealing practices. Now that two years have passed, Beltrán could again become a candidate, much as the Red Sox reinstated Alex Cora following his one-year suspension for similar infractions.
Both McEwing and Beltrán would be first-time managers.
Would Wright consider the job?
The Mets’ most recent captain has been clear and consistent about his lack of desire to reenter the grind of a baseball season while his three children are still young. (His most recent, a boy named Brooks, is about to celebrate his first birthday.) While it’s possible Wright changes his mind a decade or two down the road, he won’t be a managerial candidate anytime soon.