Omar Minaya is coming home for the holidays.
In a surprising move, the Mets on Friday announced the hiring of Minaya, their former general manager, as a special assistant to current general manager Sandy Alderson.
Minaya, who was fired in 2010 and replaced by Alderson, was always a personal favorite of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, whose fingerprints were all over this move.
Wilpon, according to sources, made this decision despite some serious reservations from the front office. It comes two days after the Mets announced a new contract for Alderson in a brief news release.
In the past two days, the Mets have held conference calls for Minaya and free-agent signee Anthony Swarzak, but Alderson has not been made available to discuss either his own contract (of undisclosed length) or Minaya’s homecoming.
In a news release on Friday announcing the Minaya move, Alderson was quoted as saying: “Omar has a long history with the Mets. He has served the club well in many different areas. Omar will be a resource on scouting and player development, will consult on player acquisitions and will serve as a community ambassador. We are very happy to have him back in the organization.”
No one is happier than Minaya, 59, who spent the past three years as a senior adviser to executive director Tony Clark at the MLB Players Association. This will be Minaya’s third stint with the Mets. He oversaw the team’s international scouting department from 1997 to 2002 before returning as general manager in 2004.
Minaya got the Mets to within one win of the World Series in 2006 and then watched as Alderson got the team to the Fall Classic in 2015 with many of the players Minaya drafted and signed. Now the two men will work together in a potentially awkward arranged marriage to try to return the Mets to their glory days after a gory 2017.
“The holiday season for the Minaya family — Christmas came earlier than expected,” Minaya said. “Being able to come back home to be with the Mets, to be able to be part of and do what I love the most, which is scouting and development, I want to thank Sandy Alderson for this opportunity. I want to thank the Wilpon family — Fred and Jeff — and I want to thank the [co-owner Saul] Katz family for just allowing me to come home . . . I’m coming home to a Mets family that is very dear.”
Minaya said his “very versatile role” will include “the thing that I love the most, which is scouting and development,” and said he will try to focus on international scouting, which has not been the Mets’ strong suit.
Minaya, a Queens native and unabashed New Yorker, said he also plans to work to spread the Mets’ message in the community.
How did this happen?
“Sandy, Fred, Jeff, they contacted me,” Minaya said. “Over the years, I was always in contact with some of the people there. Just to see how things in the organization were going. But really a couple of weeks ago, I was able to sit down with Sandy, was able to sit down with John [Ricco, the assistant general manager], and Sandy basically said [he] had interest in my coming back. I’ve had a lot of history with Sandy . . . I have so much respect for Sandy and the fact that he wanted me back there, that’s where we kind of turned the corner.”
Minaya said he doesn’t think there will be any hard feelings over his return, although indications are that some in the Mets’ front office are not thrilled by the move.
“I’m happy to be back,” Minaya said. “My family’s happy to be back.”
With Marc Carig