We are the opening verse of the opening page of the chapter of endless possibilities.
- Rudyard Kipling
For what is regrettably starting to become an annual tradition, the New York Mets will again search for a new head of baseball operations. For fans, it can be considered a time of equal part anxiety and excitement. With a full offseason and potential labor strife on the horizon, it can be a daunting new beginning for the organization. The possibility of fulfilling the promise Steve Cohen made in his opening press conference about building a model organization can be at the precipice with the right hire. For the Mets to become that model, it is important that they don’t just limit their President and/or General Managers to the splashy known individuals.
To date, press reports have circled around 3 candidates, Theo Epstein, David Sterns, and Billy Bean for President of Baseball Operations. All three have track records of success as an executive and would like likely be cheered by many Mets fans. That is not to say there wouldn’t be possible reasons for concerns. Epstein’s connections with both Micky Calloway and Jared Porter would not help to alleviate concerns that the Mets are serious about a cultural change within the organization. The pursuit alone may give some pause. Stern and Beane have also, to this point, have not been able to get their organizations to be able to raise the World Series Trophy. So whether they could get the job done in New York, with all the scrutiny that it would pertain, could also be seen as a roadblock.
The key for the Mets to remember is that no matter where the road leads, that there are options, and making the splashiest higher doesn’t have to be the only path forward. The organization should embrace examining the possibilities of what can be and that the next great baseball executive, the person that can lead the organization to a new model for the league to emulate may not be the obvious choice. The question would be who could these options be?
Admittingly, the list of POBO will be shorter than possible general managers. However here is a list established POBO candidates and possible up and coming GM candidates. The GM list will be a diverse group that will include women and people of color that aren’t as often brought up in mainstream articles about potential candidates. Each has had several years in a front office and while factors such as interest and salary demands, are unknown, it could be worthwhile to bring new voices and perspectives to an organization that has been myopic in their approach for far too long.
President of Baseball Candidates
James Click- Houston Astros
Pros – Current General Manager for a playoff team that has spent time in two of the foremost leaders in player development in the league in Houston and Tampa Bay. In coming to Houston after 15 years with the Tampa Bay Rays. Under his leadership, the organization in the aftermath of the cheating scandal. Has worked in a variety of areas such as Research and Development and Operations while with the Rays. Moving to President of Baseball Operations could in theory be seen as a promotion and may be easier to obtain access to interview.
Cons- Has only been in the GM role for a year, so not heavily experienced in the role. May also be contract concerns that would need to be addressed to be able to change organizations.
Rick Hahn – Chicago White Sox
Pros- As General Manager and Vice President of the White Sox since 2012, he was able to build up a talented team through the international market and trades, was able to build a team that has the possibility to be a playoff contender for years to come. Acquired talents such as Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, and Yoan Moncada signed them to long term deals which has been something that the Mets have consistently not done for years. Interviewed for the Mets General Manager opening in 2010 before the Mets ultimately hired Alderson. As an executive in a large market, New York shouldn’t be overwhelming for him. With team owner Jerry Reisdorf all but hand-picking Tony La Russa as team manager, perhaps Hahn would have interest in an organization where he could have greater resources and autonomy.
Cons - He has spent his entire college and professional career in the Midwest and may not have an interest in making the move now. The White Sox don’t have a strong reputation for being an analytically inclined organization so may not be as transformative as the Mets may want their lead executive to be.
General Manager Candidates
Raquel Ferreria, Boston Red Sox
Pro- Promoted to Assistant General Manager/Vice President of Baseball Operations since 2014. Only the third woman to do so following current Marlins GM Kim Ng and New York Yankees executive Jean Afterman. Consider by some as the next likely women to be hired as a general manager. One of the key interim leaders for the Red Sox following the dismal of former team President Dave Dombrowski. She has been with the Red Sox since 1999 and held a variety of roles including Director of Minor League Operations, Vice President of Baseball Administration and Vice President of Major and Minor League Operations. Was a key part in the extension of Xander Bogarts. Was with the organization for 4 World Series Championships.
Cons- Worked with Theo Epstein and current Mets interim (currently on administrative leave following DUI arrest) GM Zack Scott, so questions regarding if this potential hire would "maintain" the culture may transpire.
Kevan Graves, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pro - Assistant General Manager for the Pirates since 2015. Began with the organization in 2008 as a Baseball Operations Assistant. Began his baseball career in the Giants legal department in 2003. In 2005 spent time as Assistant Director of Baseball Operations at the Arizona Fall league. Participated in the inaugural class of MLB Diversity Fellowship Program. Was interim GM for the Pirates after the dismal of Neal Huntington. Interviewed most recently for the Pirates and Giants in 2019. Identified in survey by the Athletic of 23 players agents as a future GM. With the organization for playoff appearances in 2013-2015.
Cons – While currently working under Ben Cherington, some may consider hiring from the Pirates organization, and lack of recent success, as a tough sell to the fan base. Connection now to the Epstein tree may cause some hesitation.
Amiel Sawadye, Arizona Diamondbacks
Pros – Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager since 2016. Currently interim GM while GM Mike Hazen is on a leave of absence. Spent 15 years with the Red Sox in a variety of roles such as Vice President Amateur and international scouting. Scouting efforts led to drafting of players such as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brandon Workman. Degree in Decision Information Systems.
Cons – Hiring back-to-back GMs from the Diamondbacks, especially after the disastrous tenure of Jared Porter, could be viewed as more of the same. Ties to the Epstein front office in Boston.
Jeffery Kingston, LA Dodgers
Pros – Vice President and Assistant General Manager since 2018. Has previously worked with the Seattle Mariners (9 years) and the San Diego Padres 7 (years). He worked in a variety of roles including Director of Baseball Operations while with San Diego. Finalist for the GM role with the Angels and interviewed for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020. While with the Mariners oversaw player development and analytics departments. Served as interim GM after the dismal of Jack Zduriencik in 2015.
Cons – Would be another first time GM. Bulk of career was not spent in major markets.
Of course, all the candidates would have some level of risk. However, in identifying these key contributors from various front offices, it shows that there is outstanding talent that can shape the Mets organization positively for years to come. It is just a matter of the Mets willingness to do the due diligence and not merely chase name recognition. The possibilities can be endless, but can Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson write a new song for the franchise? Only time well tell.