Sandy Alderson’s nearing Mets arrival has Brodie Van Wagenen in shaky spot
The president in waiting hasn’t revealed his platform or potential cabinet appointees, but that could begin changing by early next week.
Steve Cohen’s purchase of the Mets — and by extension Sandy Alderson’s tenure as team president — is expected to begin Monday, with the scheduled closing of the sale, according to industry sources. Last week the 64-year-old Cohen was approved by MLB to become the team’s new control person, in a $2.4 billion purchase of the club from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.
Alderson, who Cohen announced in September as his team president pending the deal’s closure, has kept a low profile in recent weeks, instead wanting to wait until the sale becomes official before becoming too involved. As team president, Alderson, who turns 73 this month, will oversee all aspects of the organization, essentially replacing Jeff Wilpon as the COO.
At this point there is no indication Alderson has spoken to Brodie Van Wagenen about the general manager’s future. If Van Wagenen departs immediately upon the closing, Alderson may serve as the interim GM, according to an industry source, leading the front office through the early stages of free agency. Alderson has already been serving as the de facto head of baseball operations.
But as The Post reported last week, Alderson’s likely course is to implement a two-tiered structure beneath him, with a president of baseball operations plus a general manager.
The expectation throughout the industry is Van Wagenen will be replaced, but one veteran executive cautioned Wednesday that Alderson has never been known throughout his career as a “firing guy.” The executive pointed to Alderson’s arrival as Padres president in 2005 and his decision to stick with general manager Kevin Towers.
Even so, the Mets have failed to reach the postseason in Van Wagenen’s two seasons on the job and his background as a former agent who was hired by Jeff Wilpon would seem to work against him. It was under pressure from Jeff Wilpon that Alderson resigned in 2018 as the team’s GM, citing his health, opening the door for Van Wagenen’s arrival.
As team president in waiting, Alderson’s communication with Van Wagenen has been limited, with a third party serving as an intermediary, because the sale to Cohen hasn’t yet closed. Last week the Mets declined team options on Wilson Ramos, Robinson Chirinos and Todd Frazier, in addition to extending a qualifying offer to Marcus Stroman.
Bobby Heck, Billy Owens and J.P. Ricciardi are among the possibilities for prominent roles in baseball operations. Ricciardi, a special assistant with the Giants, has twice worked under Alderson. Owens is assistant GM with the Athletics, for whom Alderson served as a consultant the last two seasons. Heck, a special assistant with the Rays — who previously helped build the Astros — was recommended by Cohen to Jeff Wilpon during the Mets’ last GM search, according to a source.
John Ricco, who previously served as a top lieutenant to Alderson, is expected to retain a position in the organization, perhaps more involved with baseball operations. Ricco has spent the last two seasons overseeing special projects for the team and coordinating the Mets’ strategy with arbitration-eligible players.
The Mets signed 11 minor-league free agents and invited nine of them to major league spring training. Oscar De La Cruz, Johneshwy Fargas, Jake Hager, Harol Gonzalez, Bruce Maxwell, Jose Peraza, Mallex Smith, David Rodriguez, Arodys Vizcaino, Luis Carpio and Mitchell Tolman were all signed. All but Carpio and Tolman were invited to major league spring training.
— Additional reporting by Ken Davidoff
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