With Mickey Callaway gone, the Mets need a new manager. Here are a few options for them to consider:
1. The New York option: Joe Girardi
As one one-time rival executive put it, the Mets “need someone with experience in the market.” That is Girardi, a managerial free agent who spent this season working for MLB Network and Fox — the latter of which brought him around the Mets several times and gave him opportunities to gush about the team on-air for all to hear.
Girardi won a World Series and went 910-710 in a decade as the Yankees’ manager, fired after the 2017 season when the club finished a win away from another World Series appearance. As he mulls his return to the dugout, wouldn’t he want a chance to prove the Yankees wrong?
It’s worth noting, too, that Girardi’s first managerial gig came with the Marlins in 2006. He was fired because he didn’t get along with then-owner Jeffrey Loria, then was named National League Manager of the Year. The similarities between Loria’s Marlins and the Wilpons’ Mets are obvious to those within baseball — perceived as meddlesome, hard-to-deal-with ownership — and maybe Girardi would carry lessons learned in South Florida into his dealings with his new potential bosses.
The internal option: Luis Rojas
A member of baseball’s famed Alou family (son of Felipe and brother of Moises Alou), Rojas has been with the Mets since 2007, climbing the ladder as a minor-league coach and manager and, in 2019, joining the major-league staff for the first time. He was the quality-control coach, helping players digest the mass amounts of data available to them.
Rojas managed most of the Mets’ homegrown players in the minors — Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Seth Lugo, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith and others — and has good relationships with the current Mets, especially the Latino players.
Often cited as a big-league managerial prospect, Rojas will manage the Dominican Republic team in November’s Premier12 tournament, a qualifier for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. It might be only a matter of time until other teams come calling on Rojas, but there is a mutual loyalty between Rojas and the Mets given their history together.
Selling the fan base on another first-time major-league manager — Callaway was one — might be tough. But if Mets brass likes the overall direction of the team, especially in the second half, and thinks an upgrade at manager will make a difference, staying in-house with Rojas and keeping most of the rest the same makes sense.
The Mets could also consider Tony DeFrancesco, a New York native who has managed their Triple-A affiliate the past two seasons.
The other veteran options: Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, Dusty Baker, others?
The thinking here is Callaway, as a first-timer, was enough of a mess that the Mets will want someone more experienced.
Maddon might be the sexiest name, but he seems destined to join the Angels or Phillies (in the event they move on from Gabe Kapler). Showalter, another ex-Yankees manager (1992-95), sat out 2019 after being fired by the Orioles a year ago. Baker averaged 96 wins in two seasons (2016-17) as the Nationals’ manager before getting dumped.
The list of available veterans is long. Is Bruce Bochy actually retiring, or had he and the Giants merely had enough of each other? Clint Hurdle is free after the Pirates let him go. Former Red Sox World Series-winning manager John Farrell has had two years off since Boston fired him after winning consecutive division titles in 2016-17. Fredi Gonzalez, former Braves and Marlins manager who interviewed with the Mets for their bench coach opening last year, is open to managing again.
The Brodie-adjacent option: Joe Espada or Don Kelly
In his year as Mets general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen’s personnel decisions — players, executives, other staff — have offered a clear trend: It really, really helps if you know him. Van Wagenen is tight with Astros manager AJ Hinch, his former Stanford teammate, and if he can’t have Hinch maybe one of Hinch’s helpers is the next best thing.
Espada is Houston’s bench coach and a frequent managerial candidate. Last year, he interviewed with the Twins, Angels, Rangers and Blue Jays. He came up as a minor-league manager and major-league coach with the Marlins.
Kelly is Houston’s first-base coach and is considered a fast-riser in whatever post-playing career he wants. Another longtime National League exec described him as “Jim Leyland without the cigarette.” Kelly played for Leyland’s Tigers during part of his nine-year major-league career. He also served as a professional scout for Detroit in 2017-18.