For months, there’s been an expectation of an impending shakeup in the Mets’ front office. Last offseason’s GM hire Jared Porter was fired five weeks into his tenure after his past sexual harassment of a reporter was brought to light. Assistant GM Zack Scott was bumped up to acting general manager in Porter’s place, but Scott’s future with the organization is in question too after he was arrested and charged with DWI a few weeks back. Scott was placed on administrative leave, and team president Sandy Alderson — originally brought in to handle a broader, more supervisory role — had to assume control over day-to-day baseball operations.
Much about the forthcoming hiring process remains undetermined, but Anthony DiComo of MLB.com notes that the team intends to bring in a president of baseball operations this winter. Alderson will remain with the organization and move back into the broader team president role for which he initially signed up, tweets Tim Healey of Newsday. That’s not especially surprising, since Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported last week that Alderson was under contract through the end of next year but had no intention of running baseball operations on a daily basis and was intending to move back into the president role.
There have been some calls for owner Steve Cohen to move on from Alderson due to questions about his vetting of previous hires. In addition to Porter and Scott, Alderson hired Mickey Callaway as manager during his previous stint as Mets’ GM. Multiple women have since accused Callaway of sexual misconduct — some of which ostensibly occurred during his time in New York. An MLB investigation determined he acted inappropriately, and Callaway was placed on the league’s ineligible list through 2022.
Despite that history, the Mets are set to give Alderson another opportunity to shape the front office. Cohen and Alderson will jointly run the hiring process for the incoming president of baseball ops, according to Joel Sherman and Greg Joyce of the New York Post. That prospective hire would then be empowered to bring in their own lieutenants to assist in daily operations.
Theo Epstein has already been speculated upon as a potential candidate, and Sherman and Joyce report that Cohen would be “open to considering” the former Cubs’ president. Epstein, though, is said to want a minority ownership share in an organization if he’s to return to baseball operations. It’s unclear if the Mets would entertain that kind of scenario.
In addition to the front office revamp, there are questions about Luis Rojas’ future as manager. The 40-year-old signed a two-year contract during his hiring over the 2019-20 offseason; barring any sort of unannounced extension, he’s in the final few weeks of the guaranteed portion of that deal, although the contract does reportedly contain multiple club options. Three games under .500, the Mets look likely to miss the playoffs for the second year of Rojas’ tenure despite entering the season with reasonably high expectations.
It’s impossible to pin the blame for that entirely on Rojas. The team dealt with a series of key injuries early in the season and some of the roster’s most notable players have underperformed. But the on-field results simply haven’t been good enough to silence speculation about Rojas’ long-term future, particularly since he was first hired by the previous Wilpon family ownership group and former GM Brodie Van Wagenen.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reported last night that Alderson has expressed a desire to retain Rojas as manager next season. Puma adds, however, that Cohen and the incoming president of baseball ops are expected to have significant input in that decision. According to Puma, Cohen — at the time a minority owner — “really liked” the Mets’ decision to hire Carlos Beltrán as skipper in November 2019. Beltrán was fired just a few months later after his role in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal came to light (leading to Rojas subsequently getting the position), and he hasn’t been seriously mentioned as a potential managerial candidate in the nearly two years since.
That’s not to say the Mets are seriously considering replacing Rojas with Beltrán. For one, Cohen himself rather bizarrely pushed back on Puma’s reporting this morning (on Twitter). And Puma’s report didn’t suggest the Mets were actively considering Beltrán at this point. Cohen obviously wouldn’t have been the only member of the organization enamored with Beltrán’s qualifications at the time he was hired. The intervening revelations of his role in the sign-stealing scandal could have changed that opinion. Of course, then-Astros manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora — both of whom were suspended and fired from their respective positions elsewhere for their roles in the scandal — quickly landed managerial jobs once their suspensions concluded at the end of last season, so it’s not as if the industry at large has proven unforgiving.
There’s a lot about the Mets’ direction yet to be determined. The team will presumably look into executives currently in high positions with other teams. Three top personnel — Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto, Tampa Bay’s Erik Neander and Kansas City’s Dayton Moore — were recently promoted to president of baseball operations by their current clubs, presumably at least in part to guard against potential poaching this offseason by teams seeking a president of baseball ops themselves. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more instances of that kind of gamesmanship before the offseason hiring processes really kick off.