Steve Cohen and Mets could thwart industry tradition and hire Luis Rojas for another role

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Luis Rojas treated image, blue jersey and clapping in front of orange Citi Field
Luis Rojas treated image, blue jersey and clapping in front of orange Citi Field

The way it almost always goes in baseball when a manager does not receive a new contract is that the manager leaves the organization and finds work with another team.

The exceptions to this typically come with older, retiring skippers like Jim Leyland and Terry Collins, who stay on as part-time advisors. But promising young managers like Luis Rojas almost always shift abruptly from deeply involved in their organization to just … gone.

It’s actually weird, when you think about it. And like so many aspects of the baseball business that go unquestioned, it doesn’t have to be that way.

What if Mets owner Steve Cohen -- new to this industry and smart enough to spot opportunities to act as a disrupter -- approached this situation in a non-traditional way?

What if, realizing that it’s common sense to keep valuable employees in-house, he and team president Sandy Alderson offered Rojas a meaningful role in player development or the front office? In what business other than sports do bosses let good people walk, just because?

As both SNY and The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli have reported, Rojas is highly respected in the game and will easily find another job if he wants one.

"If the Mets do move on from manager Luis Rojas this season, the sense from multiple clubs is that Rojas, a high-respected baseball man, will have no problem finding a job with another organization," Ghiroli wrote last week (see! It’s not just me!).

It’s easy to imagine Rojas enjoying success as soon as next season with, say, the San Diego Padres or Minnesota Twins. It’s also easy to imagine him doing well managing the Mets for years to come, but the team’s rough season and the impending change at the top are what they are.

It bears asking, then: If a free agent Rojas will immediately become a hot candidate for other teams, why wouldn’t the Mets do everything they can to keep him around in some capacity?

Sep 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s one way it could go:

On Oct. 4, the first day of the offseason, Alderson and Cohen could tell Rojas that, because their yet-to-be-hired president of baseball operations should have carte blanche to hire his or her own GM and manager, that they are not prepared to offer him another contract in that role.

They could immediately follow that by telling Rojas that because of his strong personal character, baseball acumen, and deep ties to a Mets organization that he joined in 2007, that they would like to discuss how he might begin a new job with the team.

He would be free to seek outside managerial opportunities as they arise, because the Mets would grant permissions for him to interview for those positions, as per the industry standard.

The Mets have so many needs up and down the organization, and Rojas knows how to teach Alderson’s philosophies from his many years as a minor league manager while Alderson was GM.

Granted, the most significant hurdle here comes in making a hire like this before choosing the next head of baseball operations. That person would want as blank a slate as possible.

In reality, though, that new hire will inherit scores of underlings, from assistant GMs Ian Levin and Bryn Alderson, to the team’s new analytics and research and development hires, to John Ricco, the communications staff and on and on. And Billy Beane, Theo Epstein or whoever would be lucky to have Rojas on his staff.

The Mets could also just keep Rojas as manager. That would be my recommendation, though I don’t get a vote. But in reality, the solution proposed here is -- while non-traditional -- likely more realistic.

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