With the Mets looking destined for their 10th losing season in the past 13 years, changes appear to be coming in Steve Cohen's first full offseason as majority owner of the team.
And while it would be unfair to place all of the blame on manager Luis Rojas, his teams have gone an underwhelming 99-111 across his first two seasons. With the Mets in the hunt for a new president of baseball operations, and Rojas' contract set to expire after the 2021 campaign, MLB Insider Jon Heyman explained why the current skipper is "unlikely" to return next year.
"Of course if you have a new leader in the baseball side of things, you've got a relatively new owner in Steve Cohen, who has been there for a year, you've got to realize already, you didn't hire [Rojas], and you've given him a year," said Heyman on the latest episode of The Big Time Baseball podcast.
"So the situation is going to be difficult for Rojas, I think because this is the second year in a row, they've [the Mets] kind of underperformed. Certainly there have been a lot of injuries, there are a lot of reasons for this."
To be fair, Rojas did an excellent job keeping his team together during an injury plagued first-half of the season, where the Mets finished in first place in the NL East with a record of 48-40 heading into the All-Star break. In fact, they held onto first for three straight months until taking a nose dive in August, and have continuously plummeted in the standings ever since.
The Mets went 54-46 through the first 100 games and had a five game lead in the East. But since July 29, the Mets are 19-31, which has found them at an abysmal 73-77, and 5.5 games back in the division with 12 games left to play.
And it's not like they haven't spent the money, as the Mets have the third-highest payroll in baseball at $199 million.
But beyond the injuries and Rojas' managerial performance, one constant has remained, which has ultimately sealed the Mets' fate.
"Offensively, they just have not done it," said Heyman. "Personally, I think changing hitting coaches a few weeks into the season, firing Chili Davis, that was a mistake of capturing the data scenario. "I think that certainly was not Rojas' call, it was the front office. And I think it hurt him, and, you know, fair or not, I would say, Rojas is in a tough spot.
"So, first of all, I bet he's likely to not be coming back," Heyman added. "We'll see, he's still got a few games to go but it looks like it will be the second losing season with a team with a pretty substantial payroll. Again, I don't think it's his fault. I don't think he's done a bad job but I think it would be unlikely that he would be back."
Presidential Short List
Another key element in the mix, regarding Rojas' bleak chances of being retained, is due to the Mets' search for a new president of baseball operations.
With a new candidate expected to come in to run the show on the baseball side, he will more than likely want his own guy in there to manage the team.
"There's already been speculation," said Heyman. "Ken Rosenthal suggested maybe they'll bring in Billy Beane, and he could bring in, [manager] Bob Melvin, and you know, I wouldn't rule that out.
"Obviously, Oakland has done well. These guys have been fantastic," Heyman said. "And, you know, they don't have the money so it's difficult. Now, if you want to win a World Series, it's easier to do with New York. It'll be more stable with a very well heeled owner."
On Sunday, Heyman revealed the Mets' current short list of candidates for their president vacancy. This list included three big name executives, and Heyman's gut tells him there is a favorite to land the job.
"Billy Beane really may be at the top of that list," he said. "I kind of feel like if Billy Beane is willing to do it, the job might be his. I haven't said that before but that's the feeling that I get. It is a shortlist.
"I do think that David Stearns from Milwaukee is the guy that they're interested in, I think he has a year to go on his contract. I don't know since it's not public information, for whatever reason some teams keep that a secret, but that's gonna make it tough. I don't think the Brewers' owner is going to let Stearns go.
The Mets requested to interview Stearns for this opening last winter, but were denied by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio.
As for the third member on the Mets' short list, Theo Epstein, he is the only target that is not under contract with a team at the moment. However, Heyman isn't exactly sold on the possibility that he would want to leave his two current roles with a private equity firm and MLB's league office.
Epstein has won three World Series titles in his career already, two with the Boston Red Sox, and one with the Chicago Cubs. This could play another part in his unwillingness to take on the stressful challenge of running the Mets, as his legacy has already been stamped.
Beane on the other hand, has endured a good amount of playoff seasons, but does not have a championship to show for it. His teams in Oakland have never even won a pennant either.
"Theo Epstein is the guy who's out there, but he's got two jobs and I know he likes them both right now," Heyman said. "He's doing well, he doesn't need to do this, he's already won three World Series. So I mean, his legacy is already written. I think the sales job with Beane is gonna have to be you can change your legacy by winning a World Series."
Beane and Mets team president Sandy Alderson had a long and successful history together in the Oakland Athletics' front office. If Beane wants the job, this duo could reunite with the hope of ending the Mets' soon-to-be 36-year World Series drought.