The Mets have exercised their 2022 option on the contract of pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. He’ll return in that same role next season.
“I’m extremely excited to continue working with this group and build on the systems and practices we’ve implemented,” Hefner said in a statement within today’s press release. “I saw a lot of development from the rotation and bullpen and am very optimistic for even more success from the pitching staff moving forward.”
There will be plenty of turnover within the Mets’ dugout even if Hefner’s return provides a small bit of continuity. Manager Luis Rojas was dismissed after two seasons at the helm — and has reportedly already interviewed for San Diego’s managerial vacancy — and the Mets have already informed the majority of the staff that it is free to pursue other opportunities. Bench coach Dave Jauss, first base coach Tony Tarasco, third base coach Gary DiSarcina, bullpen coach Ricky Bones, Major League field coordinator/catching coach Brian Schneider, and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Accardo are all counted among that group.
Hefner, however, has seemingly done enough to convince team president Sandy Alderson and owner Steve Cohen that he can be a key part of the organization’s future. It’s not yet clear who’ll ultimately be overseeing either the baseball operations staff or the dugout in 2022, as New York is on the hunt for both a president of baseball operations and a replacement for Rojas, but Hefner will continue working in a critical role with whoever is hired to fill those vacancies.
“Jeremy has done an outstanding job of working with the entire pitching staff and they’ve all benefitted from his leadership and expertise,” Alderson said in a statement of his own. “He has blended analytics with his knowledge to provide players with tools for individual and team success.”
The 2021 season was hardly a banner year for the Mets in any capacity, but the pitching staff was generally its strongest point — even in the wake of myriad injuries. Teams judge coaches and managers on far more than just the baseline results, of course, but the performance of the team’s staff was still likely a critical point in Hefner’s favor.
The Mets received only 92 innings from ace Jacob deGrom and saw only two pitchers — Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker — top 100 innings at all. Despite the injury issues, however, the club ranked ninth in the Majors with a 3.90 ERA, seventh with a matching 3.90 SIERA and sixth with a 16.9 K-BB%.
Hefner, who briefly pitched for the Mets in 2012-13, will now return for a third season as the team’s pitching coach. He joined the Twins organization as an advance scout not long after his playing career wrapped up, helping to develop game plans and devise defensive shifts with Minnesota pitchers. The Twins tabbed him as their assistant pitching coach in 2019, and after one season in that role, the Mets scooped him up and named him pitching coach for the 2020 season.
The manner in which Hefner collaborates with the eventual hires in the front office and throughout the remainder of the coaching staff will determine how long he’ll hold his current role, but it’s telling that he is, to this point, the only staff member whom the Mets have made sure to retain into next season.