Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will get the chance to finish the rebuilding project he began four years ago. According to multiple sources, Alderson, 66, has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him as the GM through the 2017 season.
The move signals the Mets' intention to stay the course despite what has been a painfully slow road toward contention. Alderson's agreement, first reported by FoxSports.com, will be announced at season's end.
Manager Terry Collins also will return next season, sources said, though his long-term fate is more tenuous. While Collins, 65, will not be fired at season's end, he will begin 2015 as a lame duck.
Despite rumblings of a shakeup, a source said Collins likely will begin the year with roughly the same coaching staff as he had in 2014. The Mets essentially have endorsed a regime that has made clear but incremental progress in the face of payroll constraints stemming from the Bernard Madoff scandal.
Hired to replace Omar Minaya after the 2010 season, Alderson has endured a massive change in the franchise's identity. Once one of baseball's free spenders, the Mets have been weighed down by financial issues of the controlling Wilpon family, prompting payroll to be slashed by nearly $60 million.
Payroll next season likely won't stray much past $85 million, forcing Alderson to piece together a winner with a tight budget, as he did in Oakland.
In his four years with the Mets, Alderson has installed a culture that values the draft, player development and statistical analysis. In that span, the Mets' farm system has become one of the best-rated in the game.
Alderson's free-agent signings have been lackluster and generally have been shorter deals at relatively low cost, taking some sting from his misses. Those include a two-year, $12-million deal for closer Frank Francisco, who underperformed.
Curtis Granderson, Alderson's most significant outside signing, has had an up-and-down first season after agreeing to a four-year, $60-million contract. Without a bounce-back season, he could wind up as yet another free-agent bust.
But those mistakes have been offset by productive trades.
In 2011, Alderson swapped Carlos Beltran for righthander Zack Wheeler, who has become a staple of the rotation. In 2012, Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was dealt for a package headed by catcher Travis d'Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The Mets hope their core of young players will lead to a turnaround.
Through it all, Alderson has stayed true to a line of thinking developed in Oakland.
While running the A's two decades ago, Alderson watched his own hitters get punished by the foul territory at O.co Coliseum, an expanse that turned so many harmless pop-ups into sure outs. To combat that, he targeted players who were less reliant on putting the ball in play, gravitating toward those who drew walks and hit homers -- methods of production that he believed were less dependent on luck.
Eventually, the innovation tilted the odds in his team's favor.
Earlier this summer, Alderson looked out over the swath of land that inspired the kind of thinking he still espouses.
Said Alderson: "It's similar to what we're trying to do, frankly."
Upon taking over the Mets, Alderson imported a rigid hitting philosophy that emphasizes plate discipline in hopes of leading to more power, though the results have been mixed.
Recently, the club ramped up its own storage capabilities in anticipation of data that has the potential to reshape the way player defense is measured. And as the Mets were deciding between first basemen Lucas Duda and Ike Davis earlier this season, their decision to trade Davis was based on nontraditional data such as exit-speed velocity. Duda since has emerged as a middle-of-the-order slugger.
The Mets are 301-341 since Alderson's hire and are on pace to finish with 79 wins, the closest they've come to a winning season since the collapse of 2008.
Alderson recently said, "We're positioned well for 2015."