As other teams seek to cut payroll amid a pandemic, Steve Cohen contemplated bringing a fat wallet to the company for free.
The new owner of Mets – who will close a $ 2.4 billion deal to buy back the team from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz within the next 10 days – appears anxious to start on Friday, after upon receiving union approval to take control of the club.
“With the free agency starting Sunday night, we will work to close quickly,” Cohen said in a statement.
Mets will have the luxury of being a market leader to meet demand at catcher and in the start rotation. The two most obvious targets will be JT Realmuto and Trevor Bauer, the top player and the starter pitcher, available through the free agent. George Springer is another top freestyle and will fulfill the need for a powerful right-handed and center punch.
Also expect Mets to strengthen its team of analysts and technology staff, two areas of weakness. Mets currently has six analysts. It̵7;s not uncommon for MLB teams to employ more than 20 analysts.
The front office, under new president Sandy Alderson, may be reshaped. Last month, Cohen announced plans to hire Alderson, offering the new owner a respected baseball advisor as he takes on the reins.
Bobby Heck, a special assistant to Rays, has emerged as an ability to take on a prominent role in baseball operations, according to industry sources. Heck, 54, formerly the scouting director at Astros, oversees the drafts that form the nucleus of the World Series champions and longtime playoff team. Heck has also been linked with the opening of general manager with the Phillies and Angels.
Heck’s name rose to prominence in 2018 when Mets was looking to replace Alderson with the GM seat. It was Cohen, then the minority owner of the Mets, who hinted at Heck about the COO team Jeff Wilpon, a source said. Instead, the job belongs to Brodie Van Wagenen, who is currently suspended while transferring ownership to Cohen.
Billy Owens, Oakland’s assistant GM, is likely to be on Alderson’s line of sight. Alderson has served as an advisor to Athletics CEO Billy Beane for the past two seasons, where he has forged a working relationship with 49-year-old Owens.
Former Mets special assistant JP Ricciardi, who has worked twice under Alderson, cannot receive a discount. The 61-year-old Ricciardi has spent the past two seasons as special assistant to the Giant and one of the contenders for Angels’ opening GM position. Ricciardi was the GM of Blue Jays for eight seasons before joining Mets.
Alderson is expected to hire a baseball executive president, who will report to him, along with a general manager. Van Wagenen has two years left on his contract, but the odds are piling up with his comeback. One source said Alderson had contacted Van Wagenen on a limited basis in recent weeks, but it is unlikely that GM’s future has been pegged in those discussions.
A source said it is likely that player development director Jared Banner will leave the organization. Banner comes from Red Sox with the assistant general manager Allard Baird, who is hired by Van Wagenen.
Although special assistant Omar Minaya has a personal relationship with Cohen, one source said his return to the Mets is not confusing as Alderson will likely be the one to have the final say.