Mets’ new GM must hit ground running with long to-do list

Yet another day passed Friday without any announcements from the Mets about their decision to hire the next manager of their baseball operations. 

However, once the candidate is hired, he/she will be required to go to work immediately. With less than three weeks until an eventual work stoppage within Major League Baseball (unless a new collective contract is reached before 11:59 pm), ET Dec. 

Even without that looming deadline, and the freeze on player transactions that would follow, there’s a long to-do list that awaits the new general manager, who remained to be determined as of Friday. Adam Cromie (former Nationals assistant general manager), met with Steve Cohen earlier this week. Billy Eppler was the former Angels GM and were involved in the ongoing search that has been on going for almost six weeks. 

Finding a coach and a manager will be the top two priorities for the new GM. Only pitching coach Jeremy Hefner remains from Luis Rojas’ 2021 staff. 

Sandy Alderson, Adam Cromie, Billy Eppler
Sandy Alderson left GM Meeting, leaving behind two other candidates for Mets GM. However there was no timetable.
Corey Sipkin; AP Photo; Courtesy

Team president Sandy Alderson, who has been serving as GM since September, pointed out that there wouldn’t be much competition for a manager because the Athletics are the only other team currently without one, but hiring the rest of the staff could present more challenges. 

“There’s a little concern about the coaching staff,” Alderson told reporters at the GM’s meetings this week. “There’s been a run on hitting coaches this offseason. Everybody has been searching. The same conditions don’t apply to the coaches as easily as they do to a manager. However, it is difficult to get a job in the major leagues. There aren’t that many of them, and I’m confident we’ll end up with a coaching staff we like.” 

The new GM will also have to get up to speed with Alderson and Cohen on determining the team’s plan for free agents and potential trades — whether they happen before a possible lockout or after. 

Alderson has already taken care of making qualifying offers to Michael Conforto (he is planning to decline) and Noah Syndergaard, and said he convened with agents at the GM’s meetings. There are plenty of needs to address — most pressing are third base, the outfield and bolstering the rotation. 

While Alderson said the new executive will have “lots” of payroll flexibility, he appeared wary of signing free agents who rejected qualifying offers, which would cost the Mets their second first-round draft pick (No. 14-overall). Robbie Ray, Justin Verlander, and Nick Castellanos are some of the free agents expected to decline the qualifying offers and may still be of interest to Mets. 

“Our first instinct would be to protect those draft picks,” Alderson said. “As I’ve said, as Steve’s said, we’re in this for the long haul. We want to improve the team to the point that it’s sustained success once it’s achieved. We’ve got to be careful.” 

Starling Marte is a Mets free-agent outfielder. This would cost them no draft pick. MLB Network reports that they already expressed an interest in him. Conforto could sign elsewhere, as Brandon Nimmo would be moved to the corner. The 33-year old may slot in center field. 

It’s just one of the many decisions awaiting the Mets’ new GM, though Alderson is likely to assist at least until the new hire gets caught up. 

“I think that will depend on who the general manager is and what level of experience they have,” Alderson said. “I will be available. I won’t be omnipresent, but certainly would expect to be available and provide whatever insight I can. That’s also a function of not just level of experience, but also time, so that I might be more involved in conversations or in consultation or advice early, rather than late. As this person becomes more familiar with the organization, more comfortable in the role, I would expect that my involvement would diminish.”

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