The Mets announced Thursday afternoon that they have begun a hiring process for a new team president. Sandy Alderson will remain in the role until new hires are finalized, at which point he will become a “special advisor” to ownership. SNY’s Andy Martino reported the development shortly before the team announcement.
Mets owner Steve Cohen settled on Alderson as team president in the fall of 2020, a few months before his purchase of the franchise from the Wilpon family was even finalized. As soon as that sale process closed, the club parted ways with then-general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and much of his senior staff and announced Alderson’s hiring.
“When I asked Sandy to come back to the team, it was for a specific period of time and with a specific mandate – bring our culture and this iconic franchise back to life for our fans, partners and employees.,” Cohen said today in the press release announcing the news. “Sandy did those things and more and we began looking for his successor. When we find that person, I have asked Sandy to continue in a new role as a special advisor to me and the senior leadership team.“
Alderson originally signed a two-year contract, which Martino reports will expire at the end of December. According to Martino, Alderson and Cohen mutually agreed that it was time to bring in a new team president. None of the specific candidates are known yet, although Martino adds that the people currently being considered primarily come from business backgrounds as opposed to baseball operations careers. No hiring appears imminent, and Alderson is expected to remain team president until a new hire is found, even if that process stretches beyond the official expiration of his contract.
The team president role is a senior position, with that individual responsible for impacting both the baseball and business operations of the organization. Alderson is no the team’s day-to-day baseball operations decision maker, and the incoming hire is not expected to take on that role either. Day-to-day baseball operations duties fall to general manager Billy Eppler, who signed a four-year contract last November. There is no indication that Alderson’s change will have any effect on Eppler’s job status; Martino writes that Mets ownership has been “pleased” with Eppler’s work so far, hardly a surprise considering the team is key to reaching the playoffs and battling the defending World Series champion Braves for the NL East title.
Alderson has been the Mets day-to-day baseball operations decision maker in the past, serving as G from 2010-18. He left in the summer of 2018 after being diagnosed with cancer. He returned to the organization a year and a half later but apparently never had any interest in resuming his old responsibilities. The 74-year-old was tapped to temporarily run the baseball operations department late last season, but Jon Heyman reported at the time that Alderson had no interest in taking the role permanently.
The Mets hired Eppler this past offseason, with Alderson sliding back into their team president role during the second year of his deal. Martino adds that he and Cohen always planned to limit their time in that capacity to two years; his upcoming move to a less demanding advisory role isn’t tied to any new health concerns, thankfully.
Alderson’s time as team president was not without notable missteps. Not long after returning to the organization, Alderson helped orchestrate a GM search process that culminated in the hiring of former Diamondbacks executive Jared Porter. Hired in December 2020, Porter held the position for about a month, before ESPN reported that he sexually harassed a reporter four years earlier. The Mets promptly dismissed Porter, who was later banned from Major League Baseball at least until the end of the 2022 season.
A few months later, The Athletic reported allegations of sexual misconduct against former Mets manager Mickey Callaway, whom Alderson had hired during his tenure as the club’s general manager. Callaway, who was working for the Angels at the time those allegations became public, was ultimately dismissed and likewise declared ineligible by MLB until at least 2022.
In the wake of the Porter fiasco, the Mets promoted assistant GM Zack Scott to acting general manager. Scott seemed like a strong candidate to take that role permanently, but he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in September 2021. The Mets placed him on administrative leave and pushed Alderson into control of baseball operations for a few months.
New York parted ways with Scott after the season while his criminal case was still pending. Scott was acquitted this January, and the trial court wrote that he “performed (field sobriety) tests in a manner in which no neutral observer would conclude that he was intoxicated, especially to the point of intoxication.” Scott did not return to baseball operations with an MLB team, though Newsday’s Tim Healey reported in April that he turned down jobs to work with a private consulting firm.
In the wake of Scott’s departure, the Mets conducted a highly publicized search process for their baseball operations leader last offseason. The Mets reportedly made runs at Theo Epstein, Billy Beane and David Stearns (among others) before tapping Eppler. While the Mets have consistently maintained that they were happy with Eppler’s performance, some fans and outside observers have speculated about the possibility of the club making another run at one of those storied executives this winter. Alderson’s retirement may add some fuel to that fire, but it’s worth repeating that the team president vacancy is a more general position than the jobs Epstein, Beane and Stearns have held in recent years.
Beane and Stearns remain with the A’s and Brewers, respectively, where both serve as their clubs’ president of baseball operations. Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio blocked the Mets’ efforts to interview Stearns last winter. He remains under contract with the Brewers through 2023, though a deep postseason run this year (either to the NLCS or the World Series) would reportedly allow him to opt out of that deal at the end of this season. Milwaukee is currently 1 1/2 games out of the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Epstein and Beane were allowed to talk to the Mets last fall, but both later recused themselves from consideration for the job.
At this point, the most likely course of action is that the Mets finally bring in a business-oriented team president while continuing to delegate baseball operations to Eppler. Even if the incoming president isn’t brought in to take over day-to-day baseball decisions, it marks a notable hire for Cohen and his staff. For the third straight winter, there will be some key changes in the Mets’ managerial hierarchy.