NEW YORK (AP) — David Stearns said the New York Mets would “cast a wide net” when searching for their next manager.
He found what he was looking for a subway ride away.
New York Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza is being hired as manager of the Mets, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the move had not been announced.
Mendoza spent the past four seasons across town as Aaron Boone’s top lieutenant with the Yankees. He replaces manager Buck Showalter, fired by the Mets at the end of last season after holding the job for two years.
It’s the first high-profile hire by Stearns, who took over as Mets president of baseball operations with his hometown team early last month.
Mendoza, who turns 44 this month, has managed in the Venezuelan Winter League the last two years but never above Class A in the minors — and that was in 2012. He takes over a Mets team that finished fourth in the NL East last season at 75-87, which was 29 games behind first-place Atlanta, despite having the highest payroll in major league history under owner Steve Cohen.
Mendoza becomes the fifth Mets manager since Terry Collins’ seven-year tenure ended in 2017. None of the previous four lasted longer than two seasons — Carlos Beltrán was let go without even managing a game, fallout from Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal in 2017.
New York was reportedly interested in Craig Counsell, who worked under Stearns for years in Milwaukee. But after managing his hometown Brewers to five playoff appearances in the last six seasons, including a third NL Central title this year, Counsell had several suitors.
He was hired Monday by the Chicago Cubs to replace David Ross on a massive five-year contract worth more than $40 million, according to a person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because terms of that deal weren’t announced.
Counsell also interviewed with the Cleveland Guardians, who hired former All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt as their manager Monday to succeed Terry Francona.
The flurry of dugout moves came on the first day of baseball’s general managers’ meetings in Arizona.
Mendoza, born in Venezuela, has interviewed for several managerial openings around the majors over the last few years. He spent 15 seasons in the Yankees organization, serving as major league quality control and infield coach from 2018-19 before becoming bench coach. He helped New York reach the postseason every year from 2018-22, including AL East titles in 2019 and 2022, before the club stumbled to an 82-80 finish this year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Mendoza guided the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Yankees to a championship in 2011, then skippered Class A Charleston in 2012. He also managed in the Arizona Fall League for top prospects in 2012 and 2016.
A switch-hitting infielder, Mendoza played 10 minor league seasons in the Giants and Yankees farm systems from 1997-2009, batting .232 with 19 home runs in 706 games. He also spent three years playing for the independent Pensacola Pelicans (2004-06).
Mendoza will become the latest Mets manager with strong previous ties to the Yankees, a group that includes Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Jeff Torborg, Dallas Green, Willie Randolph and Showalter.
Showalter took over the Mets in December 2021 and led them to a 101-61 record and a playoff berth in 2022, when he was voted NL Manager of the Year. New York lost to San Diego in their Wild Card Series, then added three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and touted Japanese newcomer Kodai Senga to its pitching staff during the offseason.
The Mets boosted their payroll to a record $355 million on opening day, but fell out of playoff contention early and wound up dealing Verlander, Max Scherzer and several other veterans ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
NOTES: The Mets exercised their $6.5 million option for 2024 on LHP Brooks Raley, rather than pay a $1.25 million buyout. … RHP Adam Ottavino declined his $6.75 million player option, of which $4 million would have been paid from 2032-35. … New York claimed INF Zack Short from the Detroit Tigers. … RHP Bryce Montes de Oca and RHP Peyton Battenfield were sent outright to Triple-A Syracuse. … RHP John Curtiss, OF Tim Locastro, RHP Denyi Reyes and RHP Elieser Hernández also were outrighted to Triple-A, but refused the assignment and chose to become free agents instead.
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