Oakland A’s manager Mark Kotsay interviewed for the managerial opening with the New York Mets, A’s general manager David Forst confirmed.
But the Mets ultimately hired Carlos Mendoza, the former New York Yankees bench coach, on Monday. And on Tuesday, the A’s announced that they picked up an option on Kotsay for 2025, ensuring he would be the A’s manager for at least two more seasons.
On a conference call on Tuesday afternoon, Forst was asked if the A’s move to pick up the option would limit Kotsay from interviewing for any other managerial jobs. There are still four openings: the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers are still looking for a manager.
“He will be here going forward,” Forst responded, indicating that Kotsay would not be interviewing for other jobs.
Forst said he almost always grants permission to his employees who want to interview for jobs with other teams.
“As long as I’ve been here it’s always been our policy that we leave that up to the employee,” he said. “I think it’s important that employees know there is loyalty, but also I want everybody to feel they’re in the best position for themselves.”
Kotsay was asked after the season ended if he’d be open to other jobs, particularly when the San Francisco Giants had a managerial opening before they hired Bob Melvin. Kotsay said in October he was “cemented in this organization,” but noted, “obviously, there may be opportunities that arise in the future.”
Forst gave Kotsay time to interview with the Mets before asking the manager if picking up his option for 2025 would be a decision he’d be happy with.
“We’ve been talking about it since the end of the season, even during the season,” Forst said. “Going back and forth with Mark, we wanted to make sure it was right for both sides to do that. It was an obvious decision from our side.”
It sounds like Kotsay will be staying put from this point on.
“Mark will be here,” Forst said again.
There was a managerial game of musical chairs on Monday, when the Chicago Cubs let go of manager David Ross, then hired Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell and made him the highest paid skipper in MLB history. The Cubs gave him a contract reportedly worth $40 million over five years. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, former San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who just won the World Series managing the Texas Rangers, is making about half of that.
The details of Kotsay’s contract are unclear, but first-time managers typically make a bit less than $1 million per season.
“Whether or not the Mets came along, I don’t think that impacted our interest in or desire to pick up the option,” Forst said. “Mark was as committed and working as much with us here while he was going through the Mets process. Opportunities come and I think it’s important that employees are committed to where they are and make sure they explore things. But it did not change Mark’s commitment to the A’s in the process.”
Forst has been pleased with Kotsay’s leadership, an obvious recognition of the manager’s attitude despite the team having an MLB-low payroll while winning an MLB-low 50 games in 2023. They’re 110-214 (.340) during Kotsay’s two seasons as skipper, but the finger isn’t going to be pointed towards the dugout.
“The job Mark has done leading this group, managing the clubhouse, establishing himself as the leader, becoming the face of the franchise on the field — I couldn’t be happier with the work he’s done there,” Forst said. “It was an easy decision from our end.”
A’s claim Andujar
Also on Tuesday, the A’s claimed former Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar, who hit 46 doubles and 27 homers with the Yankees in 2018 but has struggled to find big league playing time since then.
Andujar, 28, spent most of last season in Triple-A for the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting .338 with 16 home runs and a .941 OPS in 103 games. He’s arbitration eligible next season and is expected to make about $2 million.
Forst said the A’s could use him at a variety of positions in 2024.
“He was highly regarded when he came up with the Yankees,” Forst said. “It’s a hard place to come up in NY. There’s a lot of attention paid to his defense at the time, whether he could play third base. We believe he is a major league hitter. He’s done a nice job transitioning to the outfield. Played left and right field last year. Played some first base as well, which is a nice option to have. We’re very left-handed heavy, between Ryan Noda, Seth Brown and Tyler Soderstrom. It remains to be seen how he fits on the roster but there’s a lot of people here who believe he’s a major league hitter.”