The New York Mets have once again turned to a former player to fill out their coaching staff. This time it’s former pitcher Jeremy Hefner.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Mets are set to hire Twins assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner as their new pitching coach.
Jeremy Hefner is the Mets choice to be their new pitching coach
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 26, 2019
Jeremy Hefner and the Mets have a long history together. The Mets drafted Hefner twice, but he did not sign with the team either team. Key Mets executive Omar Minaya was the GM during 2005, the second time the Mets drafted Hefner.
In 2009 Hefner was drafted by the Padres. He remained in their minor league system through 2011. In the offseason prior to the 2012 season, the Mets claimed Hefner off waivers. He would make his MLB debut for the team later that year.
Hefner spent his entire major league career with the Mets. He played with the team in 2012 and 2013. He made 36 starts and pitched in 50 games. Hefner wasn’t an effective pitcher, but he did have his stretches. Most notably a stretch from June through the all-star break in 2013 where Hefner had an ERA under 2.
However, as Hefner looked to finally be finding his footing in the MLB he tore his UCL. He had Tommy John surgery, but never returned to the majors. He retired after spending the entire 2016 season in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system.
Since retiring Hefner has thrown himself into analytics. He has become one of the leaders of analytic pitching in all of baseball. That led to Hefner being hired as an advance scout with the Minnesota Twins in 2018.
After an impressive year in that role, the Mets tried to poach Hefner for the 2019 season. They wanted to bring him on as the bullpen coach to replace longtime coach Ricky Bones. AS has happened many times before Hefner declined the Mets offer and stayed with the Twins. He was given a promotion to assistant pitching coach for 2019.
Hefner again impressed in his role. The Twins who were one of the worst pitching staffs in the AL in 2018 were a top-five staff in the AL in 2019. He became a hot candidate for the pitching coach jobs around the league, with one GM telling Andy Martino of SNY that he wanted to hire Hefner, but that he failed to bring him on board. That GM speculated it was because Hefner would be returning to the New York Mets to become their pitching coach.
That GM’s suspicions have been confirmed. The Mets were said to be looking for a young, analytically driven, rising star pitching coach. They certainly followed through with that having interviewed three individuals who fit the mold. None fit it better then Hefner does though. It also helps that Hefner has connections in the Mets’ front office in the Wilpons and Omar Minaya.
Jeremy Hefner joins Carlos Beltran as a former Met who has returned to the team to coach this year. This seems to be a theme with the team. They seem to prefer prior familiarity with their candidates in this hiring cycle.
Hopefully, all these returning faces live up to their hype. If they do it could be a special year in Queens.