For the third time in four seasons, the Mets’ front office will be in flux this fall, with the team looking to hire a new executive to oversee baseball operations.
Those of us who follow the team know the drill by now: While other clubs enjoy the postseason, the Mets begin to gather information on potential executives and/or managers, and plan for better days ahead (yes, the team is also currently scouting potential playoff opponents, just in case).
At least this time team president Sandy Alderson and acting GM Zack Scott (now on administrative leave after a DWI arrest and facing an uncertain future with the team) laid the groundwork for significant infrastructure improvements, building out the analytics staff and evaluating systems already in place.
Now, the team wants a president of baseball operations to settle in for the long haul.
According to people with direct knowledge of the team’s plans, there are only three-to-five people who could potentially fit the bill. And that list could be further whittled down, as it was last offseason, by difficulties obtaining permission to interview potential candidates.
Alderson will continue to run baseball operations into October, and then the process of asking permission to talk to top executives and interviewing them will begin.
The team is tight-lipped about identifying those individuals, at least to a nosy reporter. But conversations with other league sources leave us feeling confident about publishing educated speculation regarding the following names:
The Cleveland president of baseball operations has a reputation as smart, tough and diligent. It’s unclear if the Mets would be able to obtain permission to interview him for a lateral move, but this is a name that has swirled around in Mets circles for several months.
Alderson has long enjoyed a friendship with his former mentee, and worked with Beane in Oakland as recently as last year. If Beane decides he could be reinvigorated by the challenge of running a team in New York, this speculation could grow legs and become a story.
Falvey is president of baseball operations for the Minnesota Twins. As with the others, the permission situation is unclear. The Mets didn’t love the high price on then-Twins starter Jose Berrios at the trade deadline, but Falvey is highly regarded in the industry.
We’re including him on the list because you should never say never, especially in this town and with an owner who we’ve only covered for a handful of months. It’s usually a fool’s errand to speak or write with absolute certainty.
But a lot of people — and I mean a lot of people — are downplaying the Epstein/Mets speculation. The talk has been swirling since the day Epstein left his job with the Chicago Cubs, so we’re not ignoring it. But so far there is no substance behind the chatter, and Epstein wants to be part of an ownership group.
What about Erik Neander and David Stearns?
Two other highly respected executives who interested the Mets last year, Tampa Bay’s Erik Neander and Milwaukee’s David Stearns, were denied permission to interview. Because of that, they are unlikely to become candidates this time.
And what does it all mean for Zack Scott and Luis Rojas?
The new president of baseball ops will probably hire a general manager. Scott could be a candidate. One can’t imagine that his recent arrest helped him on that front.
The timetable for the executive search leaves manager Luis Rojas’ future a bit in flux, because his expiring contract will almost certainly be up before a new executive is hired.
At this point, it is still possible he could return for another year to audition for a new boss, and that said boss could bring his own manager. We’ll know more on that one next month.