When Luis Rojas reported to spring training with the Mets last year, he was the first quality control coach in the team’s history. His responsibilities included on-field work with players, like helping the utility man Jeff McNeil on his transition to the outfield, as well as streamlining how the front office communicated its analytics information to the players.
“I am going to be that source that brings in the information to our coaching staff and to our players,” he said one day at the team’s facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Plenty has changed since then, and Rojas’s responsibilities have increased. And after a wild off-season in which the Mets parted ways with Carlos Beltran just months after hiring him because of his ties to a cheating scandal, the club chose Rojas to be its manager for 2020.
General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters on Wednesday that the club was nearing a deal to make Rojas its new manager.
Rojas, 38, earned the promotion amid upheaval in the organization.
He will replace Beltran, who replaced Mickey Callaway in November. The Mets fired Callaway in October, shortly after the team missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season. A month later, it hired Beltran, who had never managed at any level.
But Beltran never made it to the clubhouse as the leader of the Mets. Instead, he agreed to part ways with the team after Major League Baseball implicated him in the sign-stealing operation employed by the Houston Astros in 2017, when he was an outfielder with that club.
Beltran, who played 20 seasons in the major leagues and helped the Astros win the 2017 World Series, was the only player implicated by name in M.L.B.’s report on the sign-stealing scheme. After multiple meetings with Van Wagenen and the team’s chief operating officer, Jeff Wilpon, after the report was released last week, Beltran and the team decided it would be best for Beltran to step down.
Enter Rojas, who has been in the organization for more than a decade after a short playing career in the minor leagues. His father, Felipe Alou, managed for 14 seasons in the big leagues, and his brother, Moises Alou, spent the final two years of his 17-season career with the Mets.
Rojas worked his way up the ranks of the organization. He worked as a manager for eight years in the minor leagues before jumping to the majors last season on Callaway’s coaching staff. Players commended him for his attention to detail, and he could often be seen working with outfielders hours before the first pitch at otherwise empty stadiums.
Rojas offers the organization some continuity amid the upheaval, and he is familiar with the talent in the clubhouse. He managed the Class AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies, where he oversaw the development of the current major leaguers Pete Alonso and McNeil. He had managed in Class A, as well as in the winter league in the Dominican Republic.
With less than a month until the team begins spring workouts, Rojas will take command of a clubhouse that will be expected to compete in a division that got tougher in the off-season.
For now, the team can only hope that Rojas will last long enough to do something that Beltran failed to do: manage a game in the major leagues.