Porter joins Mets, welcomes WS expectations

New GM on owner's championship challenge: 'It excites me'

December 15th, 2020

NEW YORK -- The culture at 41 Seaver Way has evolved. The possibilities have expanded. Shortly after closing on his purchase of the Mets last month, owner Steve Cohen stated, in plain terms, that he would consider anything less than a World Series title within three to five years “a disappointment.”

Monday, as the corporate structure beneath Cohen continued to snap into place, new general manager Jared Porter did not shy away from that charge.

“I would just say that hearing comments like that motivates me,” Porter said in his introductory Zoom press conference. “It really does excite me. It shows a strong commitment from ownership who wants to win, who wants to put a winner on the field for the fan base of New York, and I completely align with that. It excites me. I want those expectations.”

Porter would know. In his first year with the Red Sox in 2004, he won the World Series. Over the ensuing 12 seasons, he won three more with the Sox and Cubs, earning four rings that he keeps locked away as reminders of what it takes. That resume is part of what drew team president Sandy Alderson to Porter despite their lack of personal history. The two men share a vision that is “very closely aligned,” in Alderson’s words, and that was clear on Monday.

Over the course of nearly an hour, neither Porter nor Alderson bellowed any grand proclamations or guarantees. They simply offered indications that they will do their best to fulfill Cohen’s goals.

To that end, Alderson discussed the Mets’ current pursuits, hinting that a deal with catcher James McCann could soon become official. (Alderson could not discuss the contract directly because McCann still had to pass a physical. He did, and the deal was announced on Tuesday.) In so doing, Alderson reiterated the Mets’ desire to shop in “the gourmet section” of the free-agent market, calling their pursuit of McCann instead of J.T. Realmuto a decision based on timing. The Mets had productive conversations with Realmuto, according to Alderson, but did not get the sense that he was going to sign anytime soon. So they pivoted to McCann, rather than wait for Realmuto and risk missing out on a top catcher altogether.

Given how slowly the market is moving for the top free agents around baseball, the Mets may not make moves to improve their rotation or outfield until January. And that’s fine. The point is that the Mets are ready to spend at the very top of the market; the fact that they didn’t do so at catcher makes it more likely -- not less likely -- that they will think big at other positions.

“Look, everybody knows how we’re positioned right now,” Alderson said. “There’s no secret there. But the fact that we’re involved in those conversations I don’t think puts any more pressure on us. I think what the fans want is not that we win the offseason, but we win the season. And there are several different ways to achieve that.”

One is through free agency, which the Mets have already attacked with their acquisitions of McCann and reliever Trevor May. Another is through the front office and corporate culture. Porter officially signed on as GM on Sunday; by Monday, he was actively working, with Alderson handing several responsibilities to him. Given the timing of Porter’s hire in the midst of free agency, he and Alderson appear more focused on acquiring players than on fleshing out their front office at this moment, though Porter could eventually hire others to fill his staff.

What the Mets intend to do from here is simply what makes sense -- nothing more, nothing less. If Porter can accomplish that, there’s no reason why the fifth ring of his career can’t be within reach.

“As far as the winning part goes, everywhere I’ve gone, it’s always been our goal,” Porter said. “I think it’s the goal of players to win. I think it’s the goal of front office people to win, coaches to win. I think it’s a challenge, and it’s something I’m really excited about.”