The Mets announced Wednesday that they're finalizing a deal that will have Luis Rojas will take over as manager for the 2020 season.
The praise amongst Mets players such as Marcus Stroman, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, among others, has been great to see. As many have said, the hiring of Rojas seems incredibly popular amongst players. Thus, this level of response is not surprising.
I understand there are some questions about Rojas being a first-time big-league manager, and there was buzz that there was some doubt organizationally if he was ready to be a big-league manager when he interviewed in October for the job. Do not be mistaken though, Rojas is an incredibly qualified person for this job. He is a baseball lifer with the bloodlines from the Alou family, which is one of the most respected families in baseball history. While he may not have big-league managing experience, you are talking about a guy who has managed in the Mets organization since 2007 with the Mets Dominican Summer League team.
Rojas won the Best Managerial prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2014 and Florida State League in 2015 and 2016 per Baseball America's Minor League Baseball Best Tools voting. He also managed Leones del Escogido to a championship in the Dominican Winter League.
He is young, experienced, analytically driven while also having a great old-school baseball perspective learned from his family. He already has a working relationship with the front office, as the role of quality control coach was an in-between of passing data from the front office to the dugout.
The reality is that this was a very odd situation, having to part ways with a manager in the middle of January, but with Rojas I firmly believe the Mets made the best internal selection they could have, and I think it will prove to be the smoothest transition instead of promoting someone like Hensley Meulens or Tony DeFrancesco.
There is value in a time like this promoting someone who knows this organization front to back like Rojas does. I understand people clamoring for guys like Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker, but I believe the best situation for the Mets right now was picking Rojas to maintain organizational continuity while also presenting some upside outside of just being a guy to fill the job.
While we all saw quotes from Alonso and Stroman, I took the opportunity on Wednesday to reach out to a couple current Mets prospects, and a couple former Mets prospects who played for Rojas, to get some perspective on Rojas the person and the manager:
Former Mets prospect John Mincone
"Luis is the best! He was the most approachable manager I've had, that includes both personal matters and anything at all to do with baseball. He has incredible knowledge for the game of baseball, and his passion was contagious as a player. His game preparation was on another level from anything else I've experienced, and it showed in the way he is able to manage."
Mets prospect Stephen Villines
"I only spent a couple weeks under Luis but I could tell right away he is an advanced baseball mind. He's a manager that i really enjoyed playing for!"
Former Mets prospect Rob Whalen
"I played for Rojas in 2014 (Savannah) and 2015 (St. Lucie) and he was just an awesome guy to play for. [He's a] player's manager, soft spoken but got on you when he needed to. Trusted his players and believed in your abilities. Always felt like he put his players in a great position to succeed. You can tell he's passionate about the game and his players. He comes from a baseball family and he's extremely smart. Players love and respect him. I think it's a phenomenal hire for the Mets."
Mets prospect Matt Blackham
"Coach Rojas understood that each of us has a different process and he worked well with each of us. His ability to communicate and let me know what I need to do to not only become a big leaguer, but also to become a successful one was the perfect manager for a guy like me."