NEW YORK -- Less than eight hours after an ESPN report revealed that Mets general manager Jared Porter had sent inappropriate text messages to a female reporter, the Mets on Tuesday fired Porter.
Major League Baseball is launching an investigation into Porter’s conduct, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Porter could face a suspension that would prevent him from holding another job in baseball without first seeking reinstatement.
“With respect to the series of incidents involving Jared, those are the kinds of things that this organization, and many others, find abhorrent and not tolerable in any shape or form,” team president Sandy Alderson said. “We responded as quickly as we possibly could.”
Alderson said he first learned about the report around 5:30 p.m. on Monday, at which point he had an initial conversation with Porter. It was not until the story went public approximately six hours later that Alderson became aware of the full scope of the evidence against Porter, who sent inappropriate text messages to a foreign female reporter while working for the Cubs in 2016. According to ESPN, Porter met and began texting with the reporter that year, at one point sending more than 60 messages that did not receive replies.
In response to an ESPN reporter’s inquiry, Porter acknowledged texting the woman, but he denied sending explicit photos of himself.
“There was no explanation,” Alderson said of his own conversation with Porter. “He was apologetic. He was remorseful. He took responsibility, et cetera. So there wasn’t really a good explanation for what happened. I wouldn’t have expected a good explanation for what happened.”
At approximately 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Alderson had a brief conversation with Mets owner Steve Cohen. In Alderson’s words, the two quickly “agreed that the only course of action here was to terminate Jared,” which the Mets did within the hour.
“In my initial press conference, I spoke about the importance of integrity, and I meant it,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
The Mets hired Porter, 41, in December to become their next GM under Alderson and Cohen. Porter previously had spent time as an assistant GM for the D-backs and a top scouting executive in Boston and Chicago, where the incident took place.
The Cubs also released a statement, saying, “This story came to our attention [Monday night], and we are not aware of this incident ever being reported to the organization. Had we been notified, we would have taken swift action as the alleged behavior is in violation of our code of conduct. ... We take issues of sexual harassment seriously and plan to investigate the matter.”
According to Alderson, the Mets performed a thorough background check on Porter before hiring him, reaching out to various references from both his professional and early life. The team did not find any evidence of untoward behavior in his past. To that end, Alderson acknowledged that the team must review its vetting practices for new hires.
This marks the second time the Mets have jettisoned a high-ranking official shortly after hiring him. Less than three months after bringing aboard Carlos Beltrán to be their manager last January, the club mutually parted ways with him over his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Porter was in the organization for an even shorter time before the Mets dismissed him.
“Suffice it to say, had we known about it in advance, before Jared was hired, it would have been a disqualification,” Alderson said of the incident. “From my standpoint, I was shocked, and eventually that gives way to disappointment and a little bit of anger. This was a total surprise to us.”
Alderson continued: “When I came here, my goal was to put a good team on the field and change the culture. We’re not going to be able to do that -- change the culture -- unless we have a very strict and well-understood approach to these kinds of situations. They’re not going to be tolerated.”
From a practical standpoint, the Mets plan to complete the offseason without a GM in place. The team still has a sizeable baseball operations staff led by Alderson, who has been intimately involved in player acquisitions this winter. Assistant GM Zack Scott also has been involved in baseball matters since joining the Mets last month and could take on a larger role in the coming weeks. Previously, Scott served as an assistant GM for the Red Sox for 17 seasons; he was a finalist for the GM job that went to Porter. Former interim GM John Ricco remains in the Mets’ front office in an advisory role, as well.