Chernoff leader in Mets' search (sources)

November 18th, 2020

Indians general manager Mike Chernoff has emerged as a leading candidate to become the Mets’ new president of baseball operations, sources told

In recent days, the Mets formally requested permission to speak with Chernoff about the job, and there were strong indications on Wednesday morning that the Indians will grant Chernoff the ability to interview for the position.

Chernoff has worked in Cleveland's front office since 2003 and he declined numerous opportunities to pursue jobs elsewhere over that time -- including with the Mets following the '18 season. However, the circumstances are different now: New Mets owner Steve Cohen has pledged to dedicate significant resources toward building a sustainable winner.

In that way, the Mets’ current opening represents a singular opportunity: Chernoff could lead the club's baseball operations, with the resources to win a World Series, all while moving his family closer to his New Jersey hometown. Chernoff's father, Mark, works for WFAN-AM in New York City -- the current Yankees and former Mets radio flagship station -- as vice president of programming. 

It’s worth noting that the Mets and Indians are involved in another major offseason storyline: a potential blockbuster trade of Tribe four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. The Mets are known to have interest in Lindor. Thus, the possibility exists that Cleveland’s superstar shortstop and its general manager could join New York during the weeks ahead.

Chernoff has a path to becoming the Mets’ next president of baseball operations, in part because another homecoming storyline has been halted: The Mets’ request to speak with Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns about the same position in New York has been denied, sources said.

Stearns, a New York native and childhood Mets fan, signed a multiyear contract extension with the Brewers prior to the 2019 season that included a promotion to president of baseball operations. Milwaukee has made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, the longest such streak in franchise history. Clubs often decline to grant permission for team executives to interview for positions with other teams that carry the same title.

Theo Epstein is not believed to be a candidate for the Mets’ president of baseball operations position, following his resignation from the same position with the Cubs on Tuesday. Epstein said publicly that he intends to take the 2021 season off, although he left open the possibility of returning to work in the baseball industry.

Meanwhile, highly regarded Rays executive Bobby Heck is under consideration for a top front-office role with the Mets, sources said this week. Since he is not Tampa Bay's GM, he likely would be permitted to leave for the GM role in New York. Therefore, in theory the Mets could hire Chernoff as president of baseball operations and Heck as the GM.

Former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill has interviewed with the Mets, according to Andy Martino of SNY; Hill is the only confirmed candidate to have done so thus far. Through a spokesperson, the Mets declined to comment on the status of their search on Tuesday morning. The team parted ways with GM Brodie Van Wagenen amid a flurry of significant front-office moves on Nov. 6 after Cohen completed his purchase of the Mets.