The Mets announced Thursday afternoon they’ve begun a hiring process for a new team president. Sandy Alderson will remain in the role until a new hire is finalized, at which point he’ll become a “special advisor” to ownership. Andy Martino of SNY reported the development shortly before the team announcement.
Mets owner Steve Cohen settled on Alderson as team president in the fall of 2020, a couple months before his purchase of the franchise from the Wilpon family was even finalized. As soon as that sales process closed, the club parted ways with then-general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and much of his high-ranking staff and announced Alderson’s hiring.
“When I asked Sandy to come back to the team, it was for a defined period of time and with a specific mandate — revive our culture and this iconic franchise for our fans, partners and employees,” Cohen said today in the press release announcing the news. “Sandy has done those very things and more and we have begun a search for his successor. When we find that person, I have asked Sandy to continue in a new role as special advisor to me and the senior leadership team.”
Alderson originally signed a two-year contract, which Martino reports is set to expire at the end of December. According to Martino, Alderson and Cohen mutually agreed it was time to bring in a new team president. None of the specific candidates are yet known, although Martino adds the people currently under consideration primarily come from business backgrounds as opposed to baseball operations careers. No hiring appears imminent, and Alderson is expected to remain team president until a new hire is found, even if that process stretches past the official expiration of his contract.
The team president role is an overhead position, with that individual responsible for impacting both the baseball and business operations of the organization. Alderson is not the team’s day-to-day baseball ops decision-maker, and the incoming hire is not expected to take that role either. Daily baseball operations tasks fall to general manager Billy Eppler, who signed a four-year contract last November. There’s no indication that Alderson’s change will have any impact on Eppler’s job status; Martino writes that Mets ownership has been “pleased” with Eppler’s work thus far, hardly a surprise considering the team is a lock to reach the playoffs and is battling the defending World Series champion Braves for the NL East title.
Alderson had been the Mets daily baseball operations decision-maker in the past, serving as GM from 2010-18. He stepped away in the summer of 2018 after being diagnosed with cancer. He returned to the organization a year and a half later but has seemingly never had any interest in reassuming his old responsibilities. The 74-year-old was pressed into temporarily running the baseball operations department late last season, but Jon Heyman reported at the time that Alderson had no interest in taking the role permanently.
The Mets hired Eppler this past offseason, with Alderson sliding back into his team president position for the second year of his deal. Martino adds that he and Cohen always planned to limit his time in that capacity to two years; his forthcoming move into a less demanding advisory role isn’t tied to any new health concerns, fortunately.
Alderson’s time as team president was not without a notable misfire. Not long after returning to the organization, Alderson helped orchestrate a GM search process that culminated in the hiring of former Diamondbacks executive Jared Porter. Hired in December 2020, Porter held the position for around one month, before ESPN reported he had sexually harassed a reporter four years prior. The Mets promptly dismissed Porter, who was eventually banned by Major League Baseball through at least the end of the 2022 season.
A few months thereafter, The Athletic reported allegations of sexual misconduct against former Mets manager Mickey Callaway, whom Alderson had hired during his stint as the club’s general manager. Callaway, who was working for the Angels at the time those allegations were made public, was ultimately dismissed and likewise declared ineligible by MLB through at least 2022.
In the wake of the Porter debacle, the Mets promoted assistant GM Zack Scott to acting general manager. Scott appeared a strong candidate to take that role permanently, but he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in September 2021. The Mets placed him on administrative leave and thrust Alderson into control of baseball operations for a few months.
New York parted ways with Scott after the season while his criminal case was still pending. Scott was acquitted this January, with the trial court judge writing that he “performed (field sobriety) tests in a manner in which no neutral observer would conclude he was drunk, especially to the point of intoxication.” Scott hasn’t returned to baseball operations with an MLB team, although Tim Healey of Newsday reported in April that he’d turned down front office jobs to work with a private consulting firm.
In the wake of Scott’s departure, the Mets conducted a highly-publicized search process for their baseball operations leader last offseason. The Mets reportedly made runs at Theo Epstein, Billy Beane and David Stearns (among others) before tabbing Eppler. While the Mets have consistently maintained they’ve been happy with Eppler’s performance, some fans and outside observers have speculated about the possibility of the club making another run at one of those notable executives this winter. Alderson stepping down may add some fuel to that fire, but it’s worth reiterating the team president vacancy is a more overarching position than the jobs that Epstein, Beane and Stearns have held in recent years.
Beane and Stearns remain with the A’s and Brewers, respectively, with both working as their clubs’ president of baseball operations. Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio blocked the Mets efforts to interview Stearns last winter. He remains under contract with the Brewers through 2023, although a deep postseason run this year (either to the NLCS or the World Series) would reportedly allow him to opt out of that deal at the end of this season. Milwaukee is currently 1 1/2 games out of the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Epstein and Beane were permitted to speak with the Mets last fall, but both eventually took themselves out of consideration for the job.
At this point, the most likely course of action is that the Mets eventually bring in a business-oriented team president while continuing to delegate baseball operations to Eppler. Even if the incoming president isn’t brought aboard to take over daily baseball decisions, it marks a notable hire for Cohen and his staff. For the third straight winter, there’ll be some key changes in the Mets executive hierarchy.