A year away from baseball front offices was enough for Omar Minaya.
The former New York Mets and Montreal Expos general manager was hired Friday as senior vice president of baseball operations by the San Diego Padres, where he’ll work for new GM Josh Byrnes.
”This was really a family decision,” Minaya said from Florida, where he was attending Art Basel Miami Beach with his wife. ”The family has always enjoyed going to San Diego.”
Minaya will remain based in New Jersey, his longtime home, but will often be on the road scouting and he’ll also work out of Petco Park. He was GM of the Montreal Expos from February 2002 until September 2004, when he became GM of the Mets.
After signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, the Mets came within one win of the 2006 World Series. But New York faded in September in both 2007 and 2008, then was decimated by injuries in 2009 and 2010. The Mets fired Minaya after the 2010 season.
”His experience, knowledge, evaluative skills and connections throughout the industry will be invaluable for us,” Byrnes said.
A 53-year-old who was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Queens not far from Shea Stadium, Minaya started in baseball management as a scout for the Texas Rangers, where he helped sign Sammy Sosa.
About a half-dozen teams approached him about a job, and he interviewed for the GM position with the Los Angeles Angels before Jerry Dipoto was hired.
”I did enjoy the quality time I felt with my family,” Minaya said. ”One thing I missed was the competition.”
Minaya will take over the role Byrnes held last season under Jed Hoyer, who left San Diego to become GM of the Chicago Cubs under new team president Theo Epstein. Part of Minaya’s job will be to provide another set of eyes as Byrnes evaluates trades.
”I’ve done it with small-market clubs, I’ve done it with big-market clubs,” Minaya said. ”In Montreal, we had to be very creative.”
Minaya’s salary will be offset by the approximately $1.4 million the Mets owe him next year in the final season of his contract.
Minaya spent part of last summer working as an analyst for MLB.com.