After failing to attract an established president of baseball operations last winter, team president Sandy Alderson and owner Steve Cohen are prepared to try again this offseason.
However, why should the Mets believe the outcome will be different a year later? Team brass will be fishing from the same pond as before, but with one major difference: Potential hires will have had a full season to observe the organization’s flaws from afar under the new ownership.
“In one year the value of the team has gone backward significantly,” a former MLB executive said Wednesday.
Francisco Lindor signed a 10-year contract extension worth $341 million before the season, but it won’t start until 2022. Despite his improved play in the second half, the shortstop’s overall numbers don’t suggest he’ll be worth that contract.
Beyond the numbers, there’s the question of whether Lindor has the toughness to handle New York in a season in which he’s openly complained about booing and mocked fans by flashing thumbs-down.
Aside from the Lindor contract, there’s also the ace Jacob deGrom’s status, who hasn’t pitched since July 7 due to forearm and elbow issues. Last week, Alderson revealed that DeGrom had a “sprain” or low-grade tear of the ulnar collateral ligament, which has since healed, according to the team president.
Alderson’s previous two hires have also harmed the Mets. During his time with the Cubs, general manager Jared Porter was fired in January for sexual harassment of a female reporter. Zack Scott was promoted from assistant to acting general manager before being arrested for DWI in White Plains on August 31. He entered a not guilty plea and is due back in court next month.
“They had these two hires, and it looks like they are in disarray,” the former executive said.
The team also selected Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker with the 10th overall pick, but left him unsigned due to concerns about his arm. Because of those concerns, other teams passed on the right-hander.
Finally, there’s billionaire Cohen himself, with his social media addiction as a potential liability for any potential hire.
“Cohen is out there tweeting about the organization and about stuff that he shouldn’t be tweeting about like he’s a fan,” the former executive said. “Why would somebody want to sign up for that? I think it’s a huge issue.”
Despite this year’s turbulence on and off the field, which has largely failed to distinguish the Mets from the previous ownership group led by Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, and Saul Katz, Alderson is expected to return to oversee the organization, according to sources.
Last offseason, names like Cleveland’s Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff, Milwaukee’s David Stearns, and Tampa Bay’s Erik Neander were on the wish list to oversee baseball operations. The Mets were not always granted permission to speak with a desired candidate.
After a season working for MLB, Theo Epstein is the most enticing name on the market, but it’s unclear whether he and Alderson could coexist in an organizational structure, given that the former Red Sox and Cubs GM is unlikely to accept a position limited to baseball operations. Although Alderson has a close relationship with Oakland’s Billy Beane, which may make such a dynamic more plausible, Beane would appear to overlap with Alderson in terms of wanting to oversee the entire organization.
According to a source, Alderson recently told a confidant that given all the other potential upheaval within the front office, he would prefer to keep Luis Rojas as manager next season. However, according to the same source, Cohen and the new president of baseball operations (if one is hired) will likely have a big say in the decision. According to a second source, Cohen “really liked” Carlos Beltran’s hiring as manager before the 2020 season before purchasing the team.
Beltran was released after 77 days due to his involvement in the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme. The previous front office, led by Brodie Van Wagenen, hired Rojas as a replacement.