NEW YORK (AP) — Luis Rojas’ fate as New York Mets manager likely will be determined before the team hires a president of baseball operations.
With a disappointing 2021 season coming to a close, New York holds an option on Rojas' contract for next year. The club plans to bring in a new baseball boss this offseason, but team president Sandy Alderson said Wednesday he and first-year owner Steve Cohen had not yet started to contact potential candidates.
So it appears Alderson and Cohen will decide soon after the season ends whether to retain Rojas, rather than the newcomer eventually placed in charge.
“Whether that managerial decision is made after that individual is hired or before, it’s difficult to say,” Alderson said. “But I would say given the timing, probably that decision will be made before we have somebody as head of baseball operations.”
Rojas is 101-117 in two seasons as Mets manager. He drew praise earlier this year as New York led the NL East for three months, but the team has collapsed since the beginning of August without injured ace Jacob deGrom and was eliminated from playoff contention with more than a week remaining.
“I’m big on process. But ultimately, results matter. And if you don’t have good results over a period of time, then the process may not survive," Alderson said. "So, I’m appreciative of all of those positives that have been mentioned over the course of the year — you know, Luis’ relationship with the players, etc. But ultimately we have to be governed to some extent not just by the process and by what goes into the results, but the results themselves.”
Alderson, the Mets' general manager from 2010-18, was brought back as team president by Cohen last November when he bought the franchise from the Wilpon and Katz families.
The team initially intended to hire a president of baseball operations last offseason, but was unable to interview top targets employed by other clubs, and at least one wasn't interested in coming to New York.
So the Mets changed course, hiring Jared Porter as general manager to lead baseball operations under Alderson. Porter was soon fired after it was revealed he sent unwanted, sexually explicit text messages to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.
Zack Scott was promoted to acting general manager, then placed on paid administrative leave this month after being arrested Aug. 31 on charges of driving while intoxicated. Scott has pleaded not guilty in court.
Since then, the 73-year-old Alderson has been filling the role of GM.
“I originally signed on here as president of the team, not as president of baseball operations or general manager,” Alderson said. “And so what I’m hopeful of (is) that we can find someone who is going to invest in the team long-term and will get in the weeds and provide us with the leadership and the expertise that we need on the baseball side. From my standpoint, I’m happy to turn that over to someone that we find who’s more than capable.”
Alderson acknowledged that process could take several weeks, but said he's confident the search will ultimately be successful.
“It might be changing circumstances in terms of the pool of individuals that we decide to contact, which could be somewhat different than existed last year,” Alderson said. “I’m optimistic that we will end up in the right place. How exactly we get there and with who is up for grabs.”
In the meantime, that may leave Alderson to preside over the start of free agency as well. The market opens five days after the World Series ends, and the Mets have critical decisions to make on several of their high-profile players who can become free agents including infielder Javier Báez, outfielder Michael Conforto and pitchers Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Loup and Jeurys Familia.
“A lot of decisions are driven by the baseball calendar,” Alderson explained.
Alderson also said he expects deGrom to be ready to resume a normal workload next year. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA in the first half but hasn’t pitched since July 7 because of a right elbow injury that's healed, according to the team.
Rojas said the right-hander felt good during a pair of recent bullpen sessions before he and the club agreed this week that it made no sense for him to pitch in another game this season.
“Right now we’re very confident based on the condition of his elbow and the fact that he was able to ramp up not to full strength, but very close to it,” Alderson said. “So as we go into the offseason, I think we’re as confident in him as we’ve ever been and we expect that he’ll be full-go when spring training starts.”
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