Mets continue hunt for head of baseball ops

October 28th, 2021

NEW YORK -- The Mets’ search for a top baseball operations official has so far come up empty. At least eight executives have either withdrawn from the proceedings or declined to enter them, according to a mix of sources and media reports, forcing the club to expand its pursuit.

Most recently, the list of nays has come to include Brewers general manager Matt Arnold and Dodgers assistant GM Brandon Gomes, according to sources. In addition, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was first to report that Cardinals GM Mike Girsch declined to interview for the position, while the New York Post reported that the Blue Jays did not allow the Mets to interview their team president, Mark Shapiro.

Others who have dropped from the search include former Red Sox and Cubs executive Theo Epstein, A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns and Giants general manager Scott Harris, per various sources. That list includes candidates who either were not interested in the Mets’ position, such as Epstein, and those whose team denied the Mets permission for an interview, such as Stearns.

The Mets are now likely to enter November, and the official start of Major League Baseball’s offseason, without a new executive in place. Team president Sandy Alderson has been running baseball operations since the start of September, with assistant GMs Bryn Alderson and Ian Levin beneath him. That arrangement will continue until the Mets hire a new baseball boss.

Alderson is not, however, running the interview process, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Although Alderson retains input on the proceedings, Mets owner Steve Cohen is performing much of the search himself. Alderson has received criticism for a spate of prominent hires including former manager Mickey Callaway and executives Jared Porter and Zack Scott, all of whom became mired in off-field issues following their hirings.

“After the Jared Porter situation arose, I think I made it clear that we would do what we could to expand the process both of identifying candidates, interviewing candidates, doing background on candidates, and that has been the case,” Alderson said in September. “I think what we’re doing is, to the extent that we can, making sure the process is more systematic -- deeper, broader -- and includes feedback from as many different sources as we can possibly get.”

The Mets could still direct their search in one of two ways, either by hiring an experienced top executive to become president of baseball operations, or a younger GM to grow into the role.

The longer the process goes, the more likely it becomes that Alderson will need to take the reins on significant baseball operations decisions, including whether to extend qualifying offers to players such as Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard. Alderson already made one decision this week, triggering pitching coach Jeremy Hefner’s contract option because that deadline was approaching. Several other deadlines will occur in November.

Last year, the Mets ran into a similar issue, with Alderson running baseball operations until the club hired Porter in mid-December.

Only after hiring a new top baseball executive will the Mets begin the process of finding a manager. The team began the offseason by declining their 2022 contract option on Luis Rojas, who has since interviewed for the Padres’ managerial job, according to a source. If he does not receive that job, Rojas could still return to the Mets in a different capacity.