NEW YORK — The Mets didn’t have to look further than the Bronx for Buck Showalter’s successor. Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza has been tabbed to be the Mets’ next manager, sources confirmed to the Daily News.
This is the first major hire of the David Stearns era. It was widely speculated that the club’s new president of baseball operations would bring Craig Counsell with him from the Milwaukee Brewers. However, in recent days Mendoza emerged as a favorite, while the Chicago Cubs hired Counsell to replace David Ross shortly after news broke about Mendoza on Monday.
It was a stunning turn of events, with three consecutive hirings sending shockwaves through the league. Two first-time managers getting hired within hours of each other with news breaking shortly thereafter that Counsell would be going to manage the Brewers’ NL Central rivals. The Cubs didn’t even have a vacancy in the dugout, with David Ross still under contract for another year.
Mendoza is one of those rookies managers. He was a popular candidate over the last month, having interviewed with the San Francisco Giants, the San Diego Padres and with the Cleveland Guardians, who hired who hired former catcher Stephen Vogt on Monday afternoon.
A 43-year-old Venezuelan, Mendoza has worked as Aaron Boone’s bench coach for the last four years. After a 13-year career as a minor leaguer, he joined the Yankees as a coach in 2009 and worked his way up through the system, holding roles as a rookie league manager, a defensive instructor and a major league infield coach. Mendoza comes with a solid reputation, especially among the club’s younger, Spanish-speaking players. He has drawn high praise for his ability to connect with them, as well as his approach to teaching the game to players of various backgrounds.
This will be the 24th manager in club history for the Mets and their fifth since the 2018 season. There is a belief that Mendoza understands the pressures of managing in New York, given his experience working on Boone’s bench, but there may be more pressure on Stearns with this hire. The Mets have struggled to succeed with rookie managers in recent years. Mickey Callaway and Luis Rojas each lasted only two seasons each, with those hires bookending the Carlos Beltran debacle.
That was a different ownership group and a different decision-making group, but owner Steve Cohen did acknowledge that some experience was necessary after the Mets collapsed in 2021, falling from first place in the NL East to out of playoff contention completely. Showalter was supposed to stabilize the operation, but between a disastrous 2023 season and the hiring of Stearns, the writing was on the wall for the four-time manager of the year.
It’s important for the Mets to get this hire right, and while Mendoza might not have the experience and the big league pedigree of Counsell, the fact that he was interviewed by four different teams says something about his managerial potential.
The terms of Mendoza’s contract are not yet known, though typically the Mets have signed managers to three-year deals, which is relatively standard across the industry. He will inherit a roster that is in a state of flux. There are good, emerging young players, like Venezuelan catcher Francisco Alvarez, and a group of bonafide stars in shortstop Francisco Lindor, first baseman Pete Alonso and closer Edwin Diaz. However, the rotation badly needs bolstering, the bullpen needs more pieces and there are questions about aging stars like outfielder Starling Marte.
With the general manager meetings set to start Tuesday, the picture around Mendoza will start to come into focus. The Mets can begin their offseason retool with the two most important leaders in place and start to lay the framework for this new chapter.