1st-round GM interviews end; at least 4 in running

October 19th, 2018

NEW YORK -- The Mets shed some clarity on their general manager search Friday, informing multiple interviewees that they have been eliminated from the process. Now done with their first round of interviews, according to a source, the Mets plan to commence the second round early next week.

No fewer than seven candidates interviewed in the first round. Of those, at least four -- Chaim Bloom, Doug Melvin, Kim Ng and Brodie Van Wagenen -- remain in realistic contention.

Out of the running are Gary LaRocque and De Jon Watson, who will not receive second interviews. A source expressed skepticism that another interviewee, Dave Littlefield, will receive a call-back, though his status was not completely clear as of Friday night.

The known finalists represent a latticework of divergent philosophies and experiences. Van Wagenen, who interviewed this week, is the lead baseball agent at CAA, where his clients include Mets players , , and Minor Leaguer Tim Tebow. Although Van Wagenen would be blazing a new path as a super-agent transitioning to a GM role -- and doubt exists within the industry that he would leave CAA to pursue a baseball operations position -- his inclusion in the interview process signals the Mets' willingness to consider candidates with different perspectives.

There have been rumblings for weeks within the industry that another agent, Casey Close, is also involved in the interview process, but his status remains unclear.

Among the more traditional candidates is Bloom, who at 35 is also the youngest and most analytically minded interviewee. Overseeing all baseball operations functions in Tampa Bay, from contract negotiations to international scouting, Bloom helped construct a team that finished 90-72 this year in the ultracompetitive American League East.

"You talk to him for a minute and it becomes obvious he's a really smart guy," said one person who has worked with Bloom. But sources speculated Bloom may be hesitant to jump from a comfortable position in Tampa Bay to a more volatile regime change in New York.

Ng, 49, has served as an assistant GM with the Yankees and Dodgers, and has interviewed for various GM jobs over the past decade. MLB's senior vice president of baseball operations, Ng is reportedly also involved in the Giants' and Orioles' executive searches, as she looks to become the first female GM in MLB history. The Mets may be of particular interest to Ng, who grew up in the tri-state area and resides in New York.

The remaining candidate with the deepest player-development background is Melvin, 66, who has served as GM in Texas and Milwaukee. Now a senior advisor for the Brewers, Melvin helped engineer the Brewers team competing in the National League Championship Series. He may appeal in particular to Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon, who, according to sources, prefers candidates with extensive scouting and player-development experience.

Even so, on Friday the Mets jettisoned another candidate strong in those areas, LaRocque, who is the Cardinals' director of player development. Most famous in New York for signing first-round Draft pick , LaRocque went on to assume scouting and player development roles for the Cardinals. The Mets also are done interviewing Watson, who has held scouting and player-development roles in Los Angeles, Arizona and Washington, and appear done with Littlefield, who presided over seven losing seasons during his only previous GM stint in Pittsburgh.

More will become clear next week when the Mets make their finalists available to the media as part of the interview process. Wilpon and his son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, will conduct those interviews, after Jeff Wilpon and assistant general manager John Ricco handled the first round. Ricco's role in the process is complete.

Ultimately, the Mets hope to hire a candidate well-versed in both the scouting and analytics world -- a task made more difficult by the fact that several well-rounded executives, including Blue Jays vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington, Twins GM Thad Levine and Indians GM Mike Chernoff, declined to interview.

The team still intends to have a new head executive in place by Nov. 5, which marks the start of the GM Meetings in California.