There was a time when Sandy Alderson needed no introduction. Back in 1997, when he stepped aside as general manager of the A’s to make room for Billy Beane, Alderson was the longest-tenured GM in baseball.
But for a new generation of baseball fans, Alderson is far less recognizable than, say, Theo Epstein. After more than a decade of behind-the-scenes work – first as Padres CEO and then confronting identity fraud and drug use in the Dominican Republic – Alderson is re-emerging as a GM candidate, this time for the Mets.
Some consider Alderson the favorite for the position, even though he hasn’t been a GM since Ruben Tejada was a third grader. Thirteen years later, Alderson signings like Miguel Tejada and Miguel Olivo still appear on major league rosters, but don’t let that fool you – most of Alderson’s players retired long ago.
Dusty Baker and Willie Randolph, two players involved in Alderson trades, have since become major league managers. Joe Morgan, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson are among the Hall of Famers who played under Alderson.
The 62-year-old is well-established enough that even veteran GMs like Beane and Kevin Towers look up to him.
“Having seen what Sandy did in Oakland, he's always been kind of a mentor,” Towers told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2005.
And while Beane is the poster boy for “Moneyball” thinking, Alderson was a forward thinker in the A’s front office. He surrounded himself with people trained in quantitative analysis to make the most of the team’s resources.
The A’s, like the Padres, operate on a limited budget, so despite all of his time in the game, Alderson’s experience comes mostly from small West Coast markets. In fact he has a history of speaking out against massive contracts. Ten years ago, when Scott Boras negotiated a $252MM deal for Alex Rodriguez, Alderson was not pleased.
"On hearing it for the first time, a certain amount of disbelief set in on my part,'' Alderson told the Los Angeles Daily News at the time. ''I'm sort of stupefied by the whole thing. We have effectively doubled the previous most lucrative contract [Mike Hampton's] in two days. I don't like the exponentiality of all that. To me, it's incredible. I think every club is going to have to consider the impact on them.”
Even if he gets the Mets job, there’s a good chance Alderson will never sign anyone to a $252MM deal. But in New York he’d likely have more spending power and more exposure than he had in Oakland or San Diego – a new challenge for a veteran GM.