PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Last October, as Brodie Van Wagenen debated the merits of staying an agent or becoming the Mets’ general manager, Jessica Mendoza served as one of his sounding boards. Years ago, Van Wagenen met and clicked with Mendoza -- a fellow Stanford alumnus, as well as
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Last October, as Brodie Van Wagenen debated the merits of staying an agent or becoming the Mets’ general manager, Jessica Mendoza served as one of his sounding boards. Years ago, Van Wagenen met and clicked with Mendoza -- a fellow Stanford alumnus, as well as an Olympic gold medalist and a groundbreaking broadcaster. The two became close; Van Wagenen’s wife, Molly, works with Mendoza on the Women’s Sports Foundation’s board of trustees.
So when Van Wagenen accepted the Mets’ GM job, he mentioned Mendoza in his inaugural presentation to team owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Four months later, the Mets hired her to their front office as a baseball operations advisor.
“She’s a pioneer,” Van Wagenen said. “When I interviewed for this job, I had a list of people that were on my wish list that if we could bring in fresh perspectives and people that had talent, and talent that could grow and evolve in the game, then we should be doing that. … I’m excited that we were able to make it a reality.”
A softball gold medalist in the 2004 Olympics, Mendoza has been an ESPN analyst since 2007. In 2015, she became the first female broadcaster for a Major League Baseball postseason game.
“Jessica has a tremendous knowledge of the game,” Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “She will be able to provide a different perspective to the club and help assist in a variety of roles within the Baseball Operations Department.
With the Mets, Mendoza will focus on player evaluation, roster construction, technological advancement and health and performance, offering a particular emphasis on the latter two areas.
“I am excited to work with Brodie and his team and am thrilled to be associated with the Mets and their storied history,” Mendoza, who will report to Mets camp Friday, said in a statement. “I’ve known Brodie and Jeff Wilpon for years now and I’m honored to be a small part of the organization. I would also like to thank ESPN and Disney for their understanding and confidence as I balance both tasks moving forward. Baseball is a passion of mine and I look forward to expanding on my love for the game.”
Mendoza will retain her duties at ESPN, using the flexibility of that schedule to carve out time for the Mets throughout the summer. She will also join the Mets at significant offseason events such as the GM Meetings and Winter Meetings, when her television duties do not interfere as frequently. In between, Mendoza plans to check in regularly with the Mets via phone.
Van Wagenen brushed aside the notion that Mendoza’s job with the Mets will generate a conflict of interest with her reportorial duties, citing others, such as Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees and David Ross with the Cubs, who have balanced dual roles without issue. The Mets recently hired Al Leiter, who will retain his duties with the MLB Network, adding him to a front-office mix that also includes John Franco and David Wright.
“I was an outside-the-box hire,” Van Wagenen said. “I’ve been a believer that you need to get new voices and fresh perspectives in any room, especially when you’re making decisions. Jessica has a very high baseball IQ. She has aptitude to learn anything, and she knows the game. Like Al Leiter, like David Wright, like John Franco, she’s a winner.”
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.