- Cafardo also discusses the Twins’ managerial search in his column, writing that Mets manager Mickey Callaway “would have been high on the Twins’ list if he were available.” Callaway and Minnesota chief baseball officer Derek Falvey are familiar with each other from their shared time with the Indians, when Callaway was pitching coach and Falvey was working in the front office. Of course, the chance still exists that Callaway could become available, as the next Mets GM will reportedly have the authority to make a managerial change. Since the Twins’ search for a manager is already well under way, however, one would think the club wouldn’t wait under the Mets have made a hire and decided on Callaway’s fate. Callaway’s first season with the Mets was a rocky one, though he is still under contract for two more years (plus a club option for the 2021 season).
Not long after longtime general manager Sandy Alderson stepped down from his post with the Mets earlier this summer, it became clear that the organization would conduct an extensive search to tab a new head of baseball operations. Assistant GM John Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have been overseeing the team’s baseball operations department on an interim basis, but the Mets are now formally in search of a new department leader. There have been multiple reports that owner Fred Wilpon is eyeing a more traditional general manager with scouting-based acumen (an “old school” type of executive, to use a broad description), while his son, COO Jeff Wilpon, is more focused on hiring an analytically-inclined executive that more closely aligns with recent industry trends. As we’ve done with some recent managerial searches, we’ll track the majority of the updates in the Mets’ GM search here as they navigate the early phases of the process.
Latest Update — 10/14
- Indians GM Mike Chernoff had been expected to interview, but that won’t happen, Mike Puma of the New York Post hears. Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes also will not interview, Joel Sherman of the Post tweets.
Earlier Updates — 10/11
- Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, the Mets are leaving some candidates with the sense that the new hire won’t quite enjoy a full slate of baseball ops power. As he puts it, the impression is that Omar Minaya or one of the other existing assistant GMs could retain control over player development functions. Team sources that spoke with Heyman denied that was the case, however.
- Those interested in further chatter on the topic will want to tune in today’s podcast from SNY.tv’s Doug Williams and Andy Martino. The club is said to have held initial chats today with Bloom, Melvin, and Watson — representing an initial spread of possibilities.
- The Mets could still add some candidates to their list from teams that are still alive in the playoffs, with Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold being one possibility, he adds. The first wave of interviews is expected to be largely wrapped up this week, though certainly if the Mets have substantial interest in Arnold or any other exec whose team is still in the running for the World Series, that interview wouldn’t align with the rest of the field.
- There’s uncertainty in the Mets’ search for a new head of baseball operations, Mike Puma of the New York Post hears. It’s possible the Mets will tab both a president of baseball ops and a general manager, but club officials have gone back and forth on that lately and are leaning toward hiring only one person, Puma reports. Moreover, the Mets remain unsure whether to tab an old-school or new-school mind for the role, per Puma.
- The Mets had now-successful Brewers GM David Stearns under their employ as an intern a decade ago, Tim Healey of Newsday notes, pointing out that Stearns is a Manhattan native who grew up rooting for the Amazins. During his short time with the Mets, their baseball department – led by then-GM Omar Minaya – “badly wanted to hire” Stearns on a full-time basis, according to Healey. However, they couldn’t get approval on adding another full-time position from owner Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon, Healey relays. Stearns went on to a few other jobs elsewhere before becoming the Brewers’ GM in September 2015. No one knows where Stearns would be now had he risen to a more prominent role with the Mets all those years ago, but it’s an interesting what-if.
Quite a few players will hit the open market this fall, and they’ll do so by way of varying mechanisms. The end of the regular season triggered a recent wave of free agents, consisting of a certain subset of players — namely, those who were outrighted from 40-man rosters during the season and accepted minor-league assignments at that time despite having the right to elect free agency. Players in that situation are entitled instead to hit the open market at season’s end, if they were not added back to the 40-man roster in the meantime.
As conveyed by Matt Eddy of Baseball America, who also covers quite a few other minor moves, these players have now elected free agency:
Cardinals: LHP Tyler Lyons
Marlins: OF JB Shuck
Padres: OF Matt Szczur
Phillies: INF Trevor Plouffe
White Sox: RHP Tyler Danish
After recently polling MLBTR’s readership about which of the six open managerial positions had the most to offer, it only follows that we ask the same question about the three general manager vacancies.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s use “general manager” in this sense as the person in charge of a team’s baseball operations department, even if that official title could be something different (i.e. president of baseball ops) on a particular team. If you’re a hypothetical executive who has multiple GM offers presented to them, deciding which job to take demands a big-picture view. Which franchise has the most to offer a new GM in terms of resources, which range from everything from player payroll to front office staffing? Would a GM have full control of baseball ops, or is there another rung above them on the organizational ladder? Does a team already have some good players in place and is expecting to win, or is a rebuild under way, or will a rebuild be under way in the near future?
With all these factors (and more) in mind, let’s take a look at the three open GM jobs…
Mets: As disappointing as New York’s 2018 season was, this is still a team that boasts one of the game’s best pitching staffs, plus some intriguing young building blocks in Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and a healthy Michael Conforto. If incumbent veterans like Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Todd Frazier can avoid the DL and regain some of their old productivity, the team’s lackluster lineup will already get a huge boost, not even factoring in what external additions can bring into the fold. There is certainly opportunity for quick improvement in 2019, and since the team doesn’t have any payroll money guaranteed beyond the 2020 season, there’s plenty of room for extending in-house stars and adding some other notable salaries in trades or free agents.
That’s the good news about the Mets job, though as any follower of New York’s sports media could tell you, there’s also quite a bit of bad news. It’s still unknown how much financial flexibility the Mets actually have, as while team payroll has cracked the $150MM mark in each of the last two seasons, that’s still a modest figure for a club that plays in the New York market. There’s also the open question about how much autonomy a general manager truly has within the organization, given how owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon are so often accused of taking a heavy hand with their input in the baseball operations department. For instance, it’s unusual that an incoming GM would be inheriting three influence senior members of a team’s current front office staff, and there is uncertainty if a new GM would really be allowed to fire John Ricco, J.P. Riccardi, and/or Omar Minaya unless ownership allows it. Manager Mickey Callaway is also staying on for 2019, so a new general manager wouldn’t even able to select their own preferred voice in the dugout. It also might not help that the Wilpons themselves are reportedly looking for different things in a general manager, as Jeff prefers to hire a younger GM with an analytics background, while Fred wants a more experienced name from a scouting and personnel background.
Giants: The main pro and the main con of the San Francisco job amount to the same thing — this is a team that expects to win. Even if 2019 may be a season more focused on something of a rebuild-on-the-fly, there is little doubt that the franchise wants a turn-around after two straight losing seasons. To this end, a new GM will have money to spend, as the Giants haven’t afraid of exceeding the luxury tax threshold in the past, and are now free for more big spending after (barely) getting payroll under the threshold this season to reset their escalating tax payment figure to zero. There’s also no small amount of appeal in taking over one of baseball’s top-tier, most historically-rich franchises, and a team that has three World Series championships within the last decade.
The downside, of course, is that taking over such a team means taking on a lot of pressure. There may be more of a case that the Giants need a rebuild rather than a reload, given how many expensive veteran contracts are on the books. (And how more veteran additions could be coming, if the Giants stick to their logic from last offseason.) Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ best asset, is also scheduled for free agency after the 2019 season, so the contention window may be particularly short unless Bumgarner can be extended, though the team is at least open to listening to a GM that would suggest Bumgarner be traded.
There is also some question of autonomy within the chain of command, as long-time executive Brian Sabean is staying on in an upper-management role, plus Bruce Bochy is being retained as manager. Team CEO Larry Baer has said, however, that the new baseball operations head will be reporting to him, and will have the freedom add new faces to the front office mix. This could be a situation where the “new GM” is really a president of baseball operations, with a general manager also hired in a secondary role to handle day-to-day duties.
Orioles: The cleanest slate of the three jobs, the Orioles are undergoing a change in direction at the very top of the organization, as John and Louis Angelos take over ownership duties from their father, Peter. It remains to be seen how the Angelos brothers’ style will differ from that of Peter Angelos’ style, though there has already been some indication that the Orioles are adopting a more standard approach to baseball operations (such as a new willingness to spend on international players). It also isn’t clear if a new GM will have the full autonomy that the team’s recent media release claims, or if incumbent VP of baseball operations Brady Anderson will still have a major voice in the decision-making process.
This all being said, while it might take some years for a general manager to remake the Mets or Giants in their own image, the new Orioles GM can put their big stamp on the organization as early as this offseason. Rather than navigate pre-existing payroll hurdles or expectations of contention, the new Orioles only has to focus on rebuilding for the next several years. As low as the Orioles sunk in 2018, the lure of a total rebuild could be enticing to many candidates — Blue Jays baseball ops VP Ben Cherington, for one, would seemingly only leave his position in Toronto “to build an organization from the ground up,” according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. A new general manager also has something of a head start on the rebuilding process due to the number of young talents acquired by former baseball operations executive VP Dan Duquette in the trade deadline deals of Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, and Jonathan Schoop.
(poll link for app users)
- The Mets will interview Nationals special assistant De Jon Watson as part of their GM search on Wednesday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter). Still just 52 years old, Watson has a wealth of front office experience dating back to the early 90’s, working as a scout, scouting director, assistant GM (with the Dodgers) and senior VP of baseball operations (with the Diamondbacks) before spending the last two seasons in Washington’s front office.
- Watson joins Gary LaRocque and Doug Melvin as known candidates reportedly set for interviews with the Mets in the coming days, and Mike Puma of the New York Post adds that Kim Ng is also expected to be interviewed this week. Ng, a former assistant GM for the Dodgers and Yankees, was recently mentioned as a potential candidate.
- While the Mets are lining up interviews, Puma notes that some candidates have declined to be involved due to the twin perceptions that the next GM won’t have full autonomy under the Wilpon family, and that the team isn’t open to embracing analytics. For instance, Jeff Wilpon has “indicated” the new GM will have the power to replace returning members of the front office braintrust (i.e. Omar Minaya, John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi), though “there is heavy skepticism throughout the industry” that this would be the case. As past reports have indicated, Fred Wilpon would prefer hiring a GM from a scouting and player development background, with one source telling Puma that “Fred would go out of his mind” dealing with an analytically-inclined GM. Though the elder Wilpon will ultimately make the hire, however, he won’t enter the process until the final list of candidates has been determined, as Jeff Wilpon and Ricco will conduct the first round of interviews.
- The Twins interviewed hitting coach James Rowson for their managerial vacancy today, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The team also has interest in Mark DeRosa and David Ross, a pair of former players-turned-TV analysts who have often been mentioned as potential future managers. DeRosa could be on the Rangers’ radar as well this winter, and he has interviewed with the Mets and Marlins for past managerial openings in recent years. None of the trio has any previous pro experience as a manager, as Rowson has previously only worked as a hitting coach (with the Twins and Cubs) and minor league hitting coordinator (with the Cubs and Yankees).
The latest from Citi Field…
- The Mets contacted the Twins for permission to speak to Minnesota GM Thad Levine about New York’s open general manager spot, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link), but Levine declined. Taking the Mets job would’ve presumably allowed Levine to fully command a front office, whereas chief baseball officer Derek Falvey current sits atop the decision-making pyramid in Minnesota. Still, Levine has only been with the Twins for less than two years, and he and Falvey now have the opportunity to more completely put their mark on the organization now that they’ll be able to select their own manager. Of course, there are numerous reasons why Levine declined to speak to the Mets, and perhaps he is simply comfortable in his current position.
- The Mets did receive permission from other teams to speak to other candidates, SNY.tv’s Andy Martino reports (Twitter links), and they will begin interviews next week. Several people have been linked to the Mets in reports and rumors, though the Mets are “being extremely protective about names” involved in their search, with one source telling Martino that “some of the names floated publicly are wrong.”
- Owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon denied outgoing GM Sandy Alderson’s request for additional analytics department employees, The Athletic’s Tim Britton reports (subscription required), though Jeff Wilpon said in a meeting with the media last week that ownership hadn’t denied requests for front office upgrades. This wasn’t the only seeming contradiction that Britton found during Wilpon’s talk, leaving Britton to wonder if ownership is really willing to make necessary changes, given how often the Wilpons are accused of involving themselves in baseball operations decisions. The analytics department is a particularly interesting subject as it relates to the GM search, as Jeff Wilpon is reportedly more inclined to hire a younger, more statistically-oriented GM while his father Fred would prefer a more experienced candidate with a traditional scouting and player development background. As per a recent piece from The Athletic’s Marc Carig and Eno Sarris, the Mets have one of the smallest analytical staffs of any team in baseball.
The Orioles face a pivotal decision in naming their successor to recently dismissed general manager Dan Duquette in the coming weeks, and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com run through some speculative candidates for the job. Both mention former Red Sox GM and current Blue Jays VP of baseball ops Ben Cherington as a logical candidate, and it’s worth noting that The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that Cherington “wants to build an organization from the ground up” (which likely played a notable role in his decision to withdraw from consideration for the Mets and Giants vacancies). Kubatko adds that executive vice president John Angelos met with former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti earlier this summer but emphasizes that there’s no clear indication it was in connection to a potential GM role or that any formal interview will take place. Meoli, meanwhile, suggests that the team will pursue younger execs from data-driven organizations.
- There are some notable changes taking place in the Mets’ minor league coaching ranks, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter links), with pitching coach Frank Viola set to leave the organization after eight years. Double-A hitting coach Val Pascucci, Class-A Advanced pitching coach Marc Valdes and Appy League manager Sean Ratliff all getting cut loose as well. Viola has been mentioned as a potential big league coach in the past, and DiComo notes that the 1988 American League Cy Young winner remains interested in finding his way onto a big league staff.
3:25pm: MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo hears differently regarding Duquette, tweeting that the longtime Orioles GM is not a candidate for the Mets’ job and is not in line to receive an interview. Martino agrees, tweeting “definitively” that Duquette will not be interviewed.
2:34pm: The Mets haven’t yet contacted Dan Duquette, though he is expected to receive an interview with the team, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. As a further detail about Cherington, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link) that he also removed himself from consideration for the Giants’ search. Cherington is open to GM opportunities but would prefer the opportunity to “build an organization from the ground up,” per Rosenthal.
9:12am: The Mets are beginning to compile names and line up interviews to determine the identity of their next general manager, though Blue Jays VP of baseball operations Ben Cherington won’t be interviewing for the position, SNY.tv’s Andy Martino reports. While neither Cherington or the Mets commented on the situation, Martino hears that Cherington is happy in his current job in Toronto.
Cherington won a World Series during his tenure as Boston’s general manager (covering the 2012 season to August 2015), and joined the Jays in September 2016. He was linked to previous front office vacancies with the Twins and Braves over the last two years, though declined offers to interview for those positions; the Giants are also reportedly interested in Cherington for their current GM opening.
Cherington recently stated that while he was open to the idea of becoming a general manager again, he was enjoying his work for the Jays. There doesn’t appear to be much urgency on Cherington’s part to leap back into the fray of running a front office, and there seems to be enough consistent interest in his services that he can afford to pick and choose from potential situations.
The Mets have reportedly had interest in speaking to Cherington for weeks, though even if he isn’t a candidate, the club still has roughly 10-12 people under serious consideration to be their next general manager. MLB executive Kim Ng, Braves assistant GM Perry Minasian, Royals assistant GM Scott Sharp, and former Orioles GM Dan Duquette are just a few of the names who have been rumored to be on the Mets’ radar, and it was reported yesterday that former Rangers and Brewers GM Doug Melvin would be receiving an interview.
Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque is also expected to be interviewed in the near future, Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. LaRocque was initially mentioned as a candidate of interest back in August, owing to his past tenure with the Mets organization from 1998-2008 and his 40+ years of experience in a wide variety of different scouting, front office, and on-field roles in the Dodgers, Mets, and Cardinals organizations.
- Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom, Brewers assistant GM Matt Arnold, and former Padres and D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes are under consideration from the Mets and Giants for their general manager positions. Reports from last summer indicated that Byrnes was likely to stay in his current role as the Dodgers’ VP of baseball ops, though it isn’t known if his stance has changed.
- MLB Network analyst Mark DeRosa “has been linked” to the Rangers’ managerial job, and Heyman also notes that DeRosa could be a candidate of interest for the Blue Jays as they look for a new dugout boss. DeRosa has worked as a broadcaster since retiring after the 2013 season, though he has often been potential as a possible future manager, even interviewing with the Marlins in 2015 and the Mets last winter for dugout vacancies. DeRosa played for both the Rangers and Jays over the course of his 16-year big league career, as well as a brief stint with the Indians (when Jays president Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins were in Cleveland’s organization).