WASHINGTON — Steve Cohen plans for his first Mets hire to be an old organizational friend: Sandy Alderson, the team’s general manager from 2010 to 2018.
If Cohen’s purchase of the Mets is approved by Major League Baseball, which is expected, Alderson will return as team president, overseeing all baseball and business operations. In effect, he would replace Jeff Wilpon, who has been the chief operating officer since 2002 and is heavily involved in day-to-day activity.
"Sandy is an accomplished and respected baseball executive who shares my philosophy of building an organization and a team the right way," Cohen said in a statement to Newsday on Thursday morning. "I am excited to have Sandy in a key leadership role with the Mets if my purchase of the team is approved."
Alderson, 72, will report directly to Cohen, whose title will be chairman and chief executive officer.
Although Cohen has not signaled his intentions regarding general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, this means either he will leave the job — on his own accord or someone else's — or his predecessor will be his new boss. His contract runs through the 2022 season.
"I've always had great respect for Sandy," Van Wagenen said via text Thursday afternoon, "and as I have said before, I look forward to having more conversations with the incoming ownership group as the process unfolds."
This major hire helps smoothen the Mets’ transition to Cohen ownership, given Alderson’s immense institutional knowledge and familiarity, and further bolsters Cohen’s case with MLB — if his $2.475 billion bid and estimated $13 billion net worth isn’t enough.
As the league mulls Cohen’s approval, Alderson’s return to the Mets is noteworthy in that context. Cohen needs yes votes from 23 of 30 team owners before he officially takes over. A vote is expected to be held prior to the mid-November owners’ meetings.
The Mets first hired Alderson after the 2010 season, a marriage more or less arranged by then-commissioner Bud Selig, a close Alderson ally, when the Wilpons found themselves in financial disarray following the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal. Alderson worked for MLB’s central office from 1998 to 2005 and again in 2010 until Selig recommended he go for the Mets job.
Over seven-plus seasons, Alderson built the 2015 National League pennant-winning team and drafted/signed most of the Mets’ current core: Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Seth Lugo, Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, David Peterson and others. He also traded for Zack Wheeler, now with the Phillies, and Noah Syndergaard early in his tenure.
Alderson took a leave of absence after the 2015 season after a cancer diagnosis, and in June 2018 he stepped away again after the disease returned. That leave wound up being permanent, which seemed to be the plan at the time. Asked multiple times on the day of the announcement if he wanted Alderson back if and when he was healthy enough for the job, Wilpon declined to say.
"If I were to look at it on the merits, I’m not sure coming back is warranted," Alderson said then.
At the end of the 2018 season, Alderson’s contract unceremoniously expired. After four months to find a new GM, Wilpon and the Mets landed on Van Wagenen, who had been an agent to Jacob deGrom and others.
Alderson announced in January 2019 he was cancer-free. Days later, he officially rejoined the Athletics as a senior advisor to baseball operations. He had worked for Oakland under a variety of front-office titles from 1981 to 1998, serving as a mentor to Billy Beane — who still runs the A’s — and as a godfather of the "Moneyball" movement that has since become the norm across the sport as teams increasingly lean into analytics-based decision-making.
Under Alderson, the Mets had one of the smallest analytics departments in baseball, with a staff of three full-timers at the end of his tenure. His front office sometimes sought additional support/hires, their requests declined by Wilpon. It has grown under Van Wagenen, who hired assistant GM Adam Guttridge to run it, but is still relatively small.
Most of the Mets’ upper ranks of baseball executives were brought in by Van Wagenen. Among the Alderson-era holdovers: senior director of baseball operations Ian Levin, director of pro scouting Bryn Alderson (Sandy’s son) and amateur scouting bosses Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta.