The Mets not only have yet to zero in on any particular person to run their baseball operations department as the next GM, there’s also said to be ongoing debate about the style and experience they seek. So it's early and this could go in almost any direction.
The latest word out of their offices on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing is that co-owner Fred Wilpon may prefer someone who’d fit into the old-school, scouting-first style after seven years being heavily analytical under Sandy Alderson.
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However, word coming from the same circles is that co-owner and COO Jeff Wilpon — Fred’s son — may be more open to a younger, more analytics-oriented person to replace Alderson, who stepped down a couple months ago to battle a cancer recurrence, though he hasn't ruled out the old-school route.
Related to that in-house debate, there also seems to be a discussion about whether to recruit someone who’s veteran or someone who’s very young ... or someone who is in between.
In other words, not much is definite or decided yet. The words "early" or "very early" were used by everyone interviewed for this story to describe the process. No one has been called in yet, and no one interviewed — at least officially. No timetable has been mentioned, though of course the preference is not to go too far into the offseason.
A few names have been mentioned, though it seems likely it’s too early for favorites, and it’s unknown if anyone’s even been contacted yet. The seeming lack of consensus on the qualifications suggests the decision could ultimately be determined by the interviews, with an focus said to be on original and "outside-the-box" ideas.
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One thing is known: Fred Wilpon is leaning heavily on his beloved former GM Omar Minaya, who has his ear and appears to be a point man in the search. The intention is to go outside, but an inside hire hasn’t been ruled out, if they can’t agree on someone from the outside. That certainly seems possible considering the divergence of early opinions. So while the focus is clearly outside the organization, it can’t be ruled out that they could turn back to assistant GM John Ricco, who worked under both Minaya and former GM Sandy Alderson (who won’t be returning despite a health prognosis said to be good) and is close to Minaya, or perhaps even Minaya himself.
The lack of consensus on which way to go is evidenced by word of interest in folks as diverse as the respected, very veteran former Rangers and Brewers GM Doug Melvin and current Astros GM Mike Elias, an up-and-comer type whose name was just heard as another who could be in the mix.
Minaya has been close to Melvin going back to their days together in Texas. But Melvin — who was recently inducted into the Brewers Wall of Fame — retired a few years ago and has a nice three-year consulting deal with his old club, so it isn’t known how open he’d be to a return. Though Melvin, 66, voluntarily vacated the Brewers GM job after sensing club owner Mark Attanasio desired to go heavy analytics and/or younger — Attanasio also went very young from the Astros — word is Melvin hasn’t entirely ruled out a return to a top job.
In the polar opposite category, the name of Elias has come up, though it isn't known how serious a candidate he may be. He’s a Yale product, and of course the Astros just won the World Series. He’d fit into that analytically-oriented category.
Many more names who span styles and generations have been heard, though it's too early to say which ones are most serious.
Ben Cherington, the former Red Sox GM, is a name that’s heard a lot, and that’s logical since he won a World Series as GM and is currently an assistant with the Blue Jays. Word is that Alderson recommended him for a top position before Fred Wilpon instead hired Minaya, though if Alderson — whose contract actually expires at the end of this year despite the early report in this space he went through 2019 — didn’t carry weight in the winter, it may carry less now.
Brewers GM David Stearns, Indians GM Mike Chernoff and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer will get mentions, though any of them will be difficult to pry free. It’s hard to see their current teams allowing them to leave — or the Mets giving them enough power to make it worthwhile to press the issue. Stearns, interestingly, was once hired as a Mets intern by Minaya.
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Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry and former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, a former Mets executive under Minaya, and Red Sox executive Allard Baird are thrree more from the experienced category who could get a look.
Orioles GM Dan Duquette, who just finished a significant sale in which he saved the team an estimated $60 million and brought in 15 new players (and still could trade longtime star Adam Jones, who cleared waivers, could be the kind to satisfy both preferences if he doesn’t stay in Baltimore. Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes could be another a compromise candidate. Byrnes was runner-up when Alderson got the job.
Diamondbacks assistant GM Jared Porter was part of winning teams with the Red Sox and Cubs, and that the Diamondbacks are winning again this year can’t hurt his cause as a GM candidate. Rays GM Erik Neander is well-regarded in Tampa, and folks are impressed by their surprising season and trade deadline activity. Other names heard early include Chaim Bloom of the Rays, Matt Arnold and Ray Montgomery of the Brewers and J.J. Piccolo of the Royals. The Mets are said to be in touch with the commissioner's office, which is how they landed Alderson (who did get them to the World Series) last time, so it's possible names like Kim Ng, Peter Woodfork or Morgan Sword, a labor lawyer who is Dan Halem's right-hand man, come up. Many GMs have had stops in the commissioner's office, including Stearns and A.J. Preller of the Diamondbacks; Ricco also worked there.
But first of course, the Mets better figure out exactly what they want.
Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside
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