CARLSBAD, Calif. — Defying industry norms, a contingent of Mets front-office executives arrived Monday at the general managers’ meetings, the unofficial kickoff of MLB’s offseason, with an unusual arrangement: They do not have a general manager.
More than five weeks after their season ended, the Mets still are trying to hire a head of baseball operations — whether that person takes on the title of president of baseball operations, GM or some other variation. They have been rebuffed by at least a dozen candidates or the employers of would-be candidates.
And so the Mets are GM-less at the start of the GM meetings, which run through Thursday at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Team president Sandy Alderson, the interim and de facto baseball boss until he and owner Steve Cohen find someone else to do it, was set to arrive Monday night and speak to reporters Tuesday.
Those will be his first extended comments since September. Since then, the Mets have let go of manager Luis Rojas and most of the coaching staff, tried and failed to hire a series of baseball executives with varying degrees of experience, fired acting GM Zack Scott and extended one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offers to free agents Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. Conforto will reject his, a source said Monday.
Alderson, who intended to shift his duties fully to the business side of the organization after hiring a top baseball executive, probably figured on Sept. 29 that that would have happened by now.
"I’m selling Steve Cohen," Alderson said then. "I’m selling New York. I’m selling the opportunity to realize the potential of a storied but not yet iconic franchise. There is a tremendous amount to offer to someone coming to the Mets."
Nonetheless, the Mets are flailing — or perceived to be flailing — as their executive search has become an object of fascination within the industry. The reasons for their inability to hire any of the people they have wanted to are varied. Some didn’t want the job. Some weren’t allowed by their employer to interview for it. Some don’t feel ready for such responsibility.
Among the sentiments expressed inside and outside the organization as the Mets keep looking: Somebody has to want this seemingly pretty good gig, right?
Whomever the Mets end up hiring might very well be on site this week. Teams typically bring at least several of their top executives, including the tier — assistant GMs and the like — that the Mets are eyeing now. The days are busy enough that it seems unlikely that full-fledged interviews would occur before everybody leaves town late Thursday morning, but it is possible for interest-gauging conversations to happen.
That the Mets have made a handful of decisions is evidence that they are capable of operating without a No. 1 baseball executive for the time being. The situation, whoever, is suboptimal, especially with the offseason getting going in earnest. Free agents are allowed to sign with other teams now, the Mets are one of two teams still needing a manager, and there are a lot of roster-related questions — including a few potential nine-figure free-agent questions — that need answering.