There’s never been a team in MLB history that had a season quite like the Mets did in 2021.
Sure, there are teams that have up-and-down years and go through hot-and-cold stretches, but none to the extent of the Mets.
I have seen this statistic in several places today, and there is no better summation of the 2021 Mets:
No team in Major League history has spent as much time (103 days) in first place and finished with a losing record. The Mets are mathematically guaranteed to become the first.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2021
As a result of these mixed results, the Mets announced Monday that second-year manager Luis Rojas would not have his opton extended.
The club will not pick up the option on Manager Luis Rojas for the 2022 season. Decisions regarding the remaining coaching staff will be made over the next several days. We have offered Rojas the opportunity to remain in the organization in a TBD capacity. https://t.co/Zq6sJmxiDR
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 4, 2021
Rojas was hired on Jan. 22, 2020, after the Mets’ first choice — Carlos Beltrán — and the team mutually agreed to part ways in light of Beltran’s role in the Astros’ sign stealing scandal.
Before being named manager, Rojas spent 13 years with the Mets and their various minor league affiliates. In his two seasons at the helm of the big league club, he went 103-119 and failed to make the playoffs both years.
The Mets job is the first managerial opening of the 2021-22 offseason.
Here’s who owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson should consider as they look to replace Rojas and try to build a team that will get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Beltrán’s probably the most obvious choice among the potential candidates, given that he was actually the Mets’ manager for all of a few hours back in January 2020. The Mets named Beltrán their manager but then the two sides agreed to part ways after it was revealed that he was heavily involved in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal as a player in 2017.
As a result, the Mets tried to save face and promoted from within, landing on Rojas as the manager.
But if it really was Beltrán’s involvement in the scandal that hurt his chances at becoming manager the first time, he’s got precedent on his side now.
Two other key figures from the scandal — former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and former Astros bench coach Alex Cora — each returned to major league dugouts as managers after serving one-year suspensions.
Hinch resurfaced with the Tigers and led them to a 77-85 record this season, his first with the club. Cora was the manager of the Red Sox from 2018 to 2019 and won the 2018 World Series before MLB’s report came out implicating him in the Astros scandal. He was then suspended for the 2020 season but returned as manager this year.
The Mets clearly had interest in Beltrán before, and given the nine-time All-Star’s ties to the city and the team, it made sense then and it still makes sense now.
Washington has enjoyed a nice second act in the majors as the third-base coach and infield defense master in Atlanta, where he’s been since 2017.
But before that, he was an accomplished manager in his own right, going 664-612 in more than 1,200 games leading the Rangers from 2007 to 2014. While in Texas, he won two division titles and made it to the World Series in 2010 and 2011. He resigned with 21 games left in the 2014 season after reports surfaced he had an extramarital affair, which he confirmed. He also tested positive for cocaine in 2009, at which point he offered his resignation to the Rangers front office, which they rejected.
Washington is 69 years old, but there are several prominent and successful active managers — Chicago’s Tony LaRussa (76), Houston’s Dusty Baker (72) Los Angeles’ Joe Maddon (67), Colorado’s Bud Black (64) — who are all well over 60 and still proving they have what it takes to run a major league club.
The other things Washington has going in his favor are his familiarity with the NL East, his ability to connect with younger players and his ability to mold solid defensive talent — three areas with which the Mets have struggled recently. He was also a finalist for the Braves’ managerial vacancy in 2016.
If Washington is interested in managing again, the Mets owe him a call.
A blast from the Mets’ past, Randolph already served one stint in Flushing, going 302-253 from 2005 to 2008 with an NL East title and three winning seasons under his belt.
He was also the victim of one of the most unusual firings in MLB history, when then-general manager Omar Minaya fired Randolph hours after a 9-6 road victory over the Angels in the middle of the night. As a result of the timing, most people didn’t find out until Minaya put out a press release at 3:12 a.m. informing everyone of his decision.
Before his firing in 2008, the Mets were 34-35 and 6 1/2 games out of first place. He was replaced by bench coach Jerry Manuel, who went 55-38 the rest of the way and led the Mets to their only winning season until 2015.
Unlike Washington, Randolph hasn’t enjoyed a coaching renaissance, last spending time in a big league dugout in 2011 when he was the bench and third base coach for the Orioles under Buck Showalter.
Maybe a surprise name and a long shot, but Venable is in his first season as a bench coach with the Red Sox. Before that, however, the 38-year old spent four seasons with the Cubs, including two as first base coach and the 2020 season as third base coach.
A nine-year MLB veteran, Venable is also close with longtime front office executive and master rebuilder of teams Theo Epstein, who has recently been connected to openings in the Mets’ front office.
Venable would be one of the youngest managers in the league if he got the gig, but he comes from having coached under Joe Maddon and Alex Cora and has come from two teams that, unlike the Mets, are accustomed to winning in recent years.