As we reach the final stretch of the 2021 season, the New York Mets are planning for their biggest offseason since, well, the last offseason. Another season without October baseball, a coaching staff that appears on the way out and for the second consecutive offseason, looking to find the proper people to take the mantle from Sandy Alderson and run New York’s baseball operations.
The more things change; the more things stay the same.
Last season, New York swung and missed on their baseball operation search. Big names declined the job, and the ones that took it were even worst. In the end, Jared Porter was hired from Arizona, assuming the general manager role, while Zach Scott was hired as the assistant general manager. The presumption was that Alderson would remain in charge, and the duo of Porter and Scott would grow into their roles, eventually succeeding Alderson in day-to-day baseball operations.
Only that didn’t happen. We know what happened here: Porter was fired for sexual misconduct, Scott was recently arrested for DUI, and Alderson’s past as someone who looked the other way when discussing sexual misconduct and other past infractions. Ignoring the warning signs has resulted in managers, front office members, and various positions being compromised, creating a toxic culture among the Mets.
The front office failure bled onto the field as the Mets struggled. Injuries played a part in New York’s shortcoming this year. Still, between the inability to land another starting pitcher before the season, the Kumar Rocker debacle, the constant rushing of players back from injury, the failure to protect Jacob deGrom, and a trade deadline saw the Mets fail to add anything to be the weak bullpen. In the final weeks, the Mets needed help to maintain in the NL East and NL Wild Card race. The front office didn’t have the answers.
The Mets cannot waste this offseason with another failed front office search.
Last offseason was a bit of a whirlwind for the Mets, thanks to Steve Cohen purchasing the team. As Cohen was finalizing the purchase, he hired Alderson back into his President of Baseball Operations role. Between ownership and front office upheaval and the world still dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Mets were a step slow in the hiring process, and targeted names didn’t want to move their families. An understandable position.
As a result, the Mets struggled to land extensive interviews, let alone big names for the job. Guys like Chris Young opted to go elsewhere, while others, like Michael Hill and Billy Eppler, opted to work for Major League Baseball itself. It became clear that Tampa Bay’s Erik Neander and Oakland’s Billy Owens were not coming to Queens.
The Mets have their owner in place this offseason, and Alderson has committed to staying on as President to oversee the next front office hires.
On the surface, this should be an enticing job. Cohen’s wallet aside, they have a formidable group of talent on the roster with a free agency class that mirrors their needs. The addition of the DH to the National League in 2022 would only help the registration with flexibility. Along with a solid roster, the Mets play in the National League East, where the Phillies and Braves are playing for a playoff spot with less than 86 wins. The NL East is a winnable division with a good 2021 offseason.
The farm system? Glad you asked. If New York eschews signing a player with a qualifying offer attached, they project to have two picks in the top 15 – their original 2022 pick and one from failing to sign Kumar Rocker. That gives the Mets a ton of room to be active in the 2022 MLB Draft, capable of shuffling and navigating money to maximize their return and possibly, adding a talent haul that could make up for bypassing Rocker.
Round it out with Cohen’s wallet and the chance of bypassing the luxury tax, and the Mets offer a pretty enticing project for some of the biggest names in baseball.
Who should the Mets target in their front office search?
According to multiple sources, the Mets are interested in Oakland Athletics President Billy Beane, Milwaukee Brewers President David Stearns, and former Cubs and Red Sox President Theo Epstein. Stearns has Milwaukee in the playoffs, which means the Mets would have to wait and hire him, while Beane and Epstein should be available right away if the Mets decide to zero in on one of the two.
Beane and Epstein both fit the big-name and profile the Mets want, however, both come with their own concerns. Beane, who would have to sell his minority stake in the Athletics to join the Mets, has assumed more of a delegator role, allowing David Forst to take day-to-day operations. Can the Mets get both Beane and Forst from Oakland?
Meanwhile, Epstein, who may look for an ownership percentage of the Mets to run the team, comes in with a question: Will it be more the same with the team’s toxic culture? While you can’t deny the resume of the man who broke the championship droughts of both the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, both Porter and Scott are Epstein’s disciples. Leave questions as to who will the Mets be employing under Epstein if hired.
Stearns feels like the ideal hire for New York. He has experience running a franchise; he’s 36 years old, a New York native, and a former employee of the Mets. Like Dave Dombrowski taking the then-Florida Marlins job in 1991, Stearns could walk into New York with the ability to rebuild and remodel everything – his manager, his own front office, and the ability to become a franchise legend.
And the Mets shouldn’t stop there – if the New York Mets want to add more talent to their front office, nailing the General Manager hire is also crucial. In a world where Beane or can’t bring over their top lieutenant, the GM search becomes as important as the President of Baseball Operations search. Two names of intAtlanta’slanta’s Dana Brown aLouis’ Louis’ Randy Flores.
Brown, The Vice President of Scouting for the Atlanta Braves, is known for his extensive draft work for his success with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals before that. Flores, a former Major League pitcher, and current assistant general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals, created OnDeckDigital, a video scouting product adopted by several MLB teams.
Both would be great, as they offer a clear upgrade York’s York’s front office. Brown would be a steady presence for New York’s draft room, allowing the Mets to have success similar to last decade, where they saw several first-round picks make the major league roster. Flores offers someone familiar with the game and can assist with finding the right player for development. Landing one of the two would go a great way towards helping a farm system that has failed to bear much fruit since 2016.
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The New York Mets are making monumental changes to their front office. Last year, the Mets attempted to make changes and failed. Now, after a failed offseason, regular season, and with Steve Cohen thoroughly entrenched as the owner of the Mets, New York must seize this opportunity and make big baseball hires that can help push the Mets forward for the next decade.