Mets president Sandy Alderson says the team may have been naive to think it could manage Trevor Bauer’s habit of inflammatory social media posts but says he’s happy with New York's offseason changes despite failing to sign the NL Cy Young Award winner.
Bauer agreed Feb. 5 to a $102 million, three-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a deal that was finalized a week later.
He has been involved in multiple controversies on social media, where he has a huge following and is actively involved in creating and writing content for his channels. Two higher-profile incidents both involved women, including a college student who accused the 30-year-old Bauer of harassing her online. Bauer tweeted the student “was obsessed with me.”
“I think that he would have added a dimension to our team, maybe a third or fourth dimension,” Alderson said with a laugh during a news conference Monday in Port St. Lucie, Florida, ahead of the Mets' spring training opener. “And hard to know how that would have turned out. But we thought we could manage it. And maybe that was naive. We’ll see.
“But look, we’re very happy with the roster we have, and I’m not here to say, wow, we dodged a bullet. I’m here to say we made an effort. We thought he would help our team. We understood what the risks were associated with some of the social media stuff. We actually had discussions internally with group or groups in our organization to talk about that, including women. And so I was happy with where we ended up, and he made a choice. And now maybe I’m even happier with where we ended up, given the fact that we were able to add someone like Taijuan Walker and others.”
Alderson, the Mets' former general manager, returned as team president when Steve Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the team from the Wilpon and Katz families on Nov. 6. Alderson said he never spoke directly with Bauer but talked with the pitcher’s agent about the social media presence and the need for Bauer to take responsibility for it.
“We did spend a lot of time on it and felt that, look, we weren’t being naive. I don’t think in the sense that, OK, we turn this guy around on a dime and turn him into something that that he wasn’t before,” Alderson said. “I did feel that we could manage it as long as we were communicating with him and being sort of attuned to what was going on.”
Alderson said the Mets spoke with women in the organization about their views of Bauer.
“I’m not talking about senior management. There were others that were involved to get their perception," Alderson said. “I thought it was pretty inclusive."
General manager Jared Porter was fired for cause on Jan. 19, 38 days after he was hired, after ESPN reported he sent sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while he was working for the Chicago Cubs. Former Mets manager Mickey Callaway was suspended as pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels on Feb. 2 after allegations of inappropriate behavior toward several women who work in sports media were reported by The Athletic.
“With respect to the vetting process, we’ll be more intentional about communicating with women who may have had some contact, not necessarily fellow employees, but other third parties that might have come in contact,” Alderson said. “We’re probably taking our background checks and so forth to a somewhat higher level to the extent that we can.”
Alderson expressed regret over the vetting process of Callaway.
“When we when we hired Mickey, Mickey was the hot commodity," he said. "There were a number of teams that were anxious to talk to him and possibly sign him to a contract. We felt very fortunate at the time to get him based on his reputation in the game. Now, that was that short-sighted on our part? Was it too narrow focus? I think the answer is probably yes. And certainly in retrospect, there probably should have been a broader assessment of his qualifications."
Zack Scott was promoted to acting GM, and Alderson said the Mets may hire assistant GMs from within.
Alderson also addressed the Mets' pursuit of power-hitting outfielder George Springer, who agreed in January to a $150 million, six-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I think it all came down to five years vs. six, and in our case, we also had to be constantly aware of players already on the team who we’re going to be in a similar position and how many of those deals we could actually negotiate and expect to complete and not absolutely hamstring ourselves going forward,” Alderson said. “So had we signed Springer, probably the less likely that we’re able to sign (Michael) Conforto, for example. At some point, even Steve Cohen runs out of money.”
New York is interested in exploring long-term contracts with shortstop Francisco Lindor and Conforto, both eligible for free agency after the World Series. The Mets acquired Lindor, a four-time All-Star, from Cleveland in early January along with pitcher Carlos Carrasco for infielders Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario and two minor league prospects. Lindor does not want to negotiate once the season starts.
“I think we’re committed to talking about it and I expect that those conversations will start relatively soon,” Alderson said.
Alderson intends to explore a long-term contract with right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery and also can become a free agent after the World Series.
While the Mets had discussions with free agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., Alderson said the lack of a designated hitter in the National League this year factored into the decision not to push for a deal.
NOTES: Jeff Deline will be hired as executive vice president and chief revenue officer, reporting to Alderson. He is with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and will join the Mets at the end of the Maple Leafs' and Raptors' seasons. He is to oversee partnerships, ticketing, luxury suites, concessions, merchandising and Citi Field rentals.
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