Rojas crosses town, named Yanks 3B coach

November 16th, 2021

Luis Rojas is switching boroughs and dugouts. The Yankees have hired the former Mets manager to serve as their third-base coach and outfield instructor, the club announced on Monday.

Rojas, 40, will try on the Yankees’ pinstripes after spending the past 16 years with the Mets organization (2006-21), including the previous two seasons as the club’s skipper. Rojas will replace Phil Nevin, whose contract was not renewed.

“I’m excited; it’s a talented roster,” Rojas said. “We saw them in two series that we had last year when I was managing the Mets. Right now, I’m most excited to work with the outfielders because that’s my area. When you’re on a baseball team, you become a family, so I’m really looking forward to getting to know everybody.”

Under Rojas, the Mets posted a 103-119 record (.464), including a 77-85 mark and a third-place finish in the NL East this past season. The Mets declined Rojas’ 2022 option in early October and have not yet named a replacement.

“I’ve gotten to know Luis a little bit over the last few years,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “We’ve developed a little bit of a relationship. Just looking from afar, he’s certainly somebody that I respected and enjoyed our interactions together.

“The respect he’s earned across the board in this game from people that we contacted, just how highly people spoke of him, certainly confirmed that we definitely needed to interview him. I think our group kind of fell in love with him as far as everyone kind of giving the thumbs up, like, ‘Yeah, this is the guy we need to get with our staff.’”

While Boone received a three-year extension from the Yankees in October, his coaching staff will take on a different look. In addition to Nevin, hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere and first-base/outfield coach Reggie Willits will not be back for 2022.

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza, pitching coach Matt Blake, catching coach Tanner Swanson and bullpen coach Mike Harkey are all expected to return.

Rojas was the sixth Dominican-born manager in Major League history. His father, Felipe Alou, was the first when he managed the Montreal Expos (1992-2001) and San Francisco Giants (2003-06) after his 17-season Major League playing career.

Rojas and Alou were the sixth father-son duo to serve as Major League managers, joining Buddy and David Bell, Aaron and Bob Boone, Connie and Earle Mack, George and Dick Sisler, and Bob and Joel Skinner. Luis' brother, Moises Alou, played 17 seasons in the Majors with seven teams.

“The Yankees organization is tradition,” Rojas said. “My father played three years there (1971-73). My uncle [Matty Alou], may he rest in peace, played one year there (1973). There’s some family history. I’m excited about it and I can’t wait to get to work.”

In 2019, Rojas served as the Mets' Major League quality control coach. Before joining the club’s Major League staff, Rojas managed Double-A Binghamton ('17-18), Class A Advanced St. Lucie ('15-16), Class A Savannah ('12-14) and the Gulf Coast League Mets ('11). In '14, he was named the South Atlantic League Manager of the Year.

Rojas also served as a Minor League coach for Savannah in 2010 and held the same role for the Gulf Coast League Mets from '08-09. He spent his first full season in the Mets organization in '07 with the Dominican Summer League team after joining the organization in '06.

Rojas also managed the Dominican Republic National Team in the WBSC Premier12 tournament in 2019. The Santo Domingo, D.R., native led Leones del Escogido to a Dominican Winter League championship in '15-16.

During his playing career, Rojas spent time in the Minor League systems of the Orioles (2000), Marlins ('01-02) and Expos/Nationals ('03-05).

“For me, [managing the Mets] was a learning experience,” Rojas said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything at this point. I learned a lot and I do reflect. Every time I reflect, sometimes new ideas brew because of it. I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to manage.”