Mets’ new GM excited by Cohen’s title expectations

AP Sports
Steve Cohen

This photo from a Zoom press conference shows New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (New York Mets via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jared Porter knows his new boss with the Mets is counting on a championship.

Pretty soon, too.

That doesn’t bother him one bit.

“Hearing comments like that motivates me,” Porter said Monday after being introduced as New York’s general manager. “It shows a strong commitment from ownership who wants to win, who wants to put a winner on the field for the fan base in New York, and I completely align with that. It excites me. I want those expectations.”

In a news conference on Zoom that lasted nearly 50 minutes, Porter outlined his vision of emphasizing talent, flexibility, innovation and depth throughout the organization for a Mets team transforming under new owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson.

Cohen, a hugely successful hedge fund manager with an appetite for winning, bought the club last month from the Wilpon and Katz families for $2.42 billion. The lifelong Mets fan said it would be a disappointment if they don’t win the World Series within three to five years.

Tall talk for a franchise with two titles in 59 seasons of existence — and none since 1986. Those type of lofty demands are more commonly associated with Yankees brass across town, while the stumbling Mets have slogged through nine losing seasons in the last 12.

Porter’s job is to help change all that via scouting, analytics, aggressive player acquisition — every means possible.

“I think what we’ve talked about the most is just a cultural shift, for one. Adding good people to the organization. Improving on the organizational culture. Adding depth to the roster,” Porter said. “It’s really important to create a situation where you’re a really hard team to play against. You’re hard to game-plan against in all areas.”

Porter, 41, agreed to a four-year contract after spending the past four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks as senior vice president and assistant general manager under GM Mike Hazen.

Before that, Porter worked under Theo Epstein with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, winning three World Series rings in Boston’s front office and another with the Cubs.

“I keep mine locked up,” Porter said. “I don’t wear them out.”

New York went 26-34 during the pandemic-truncated season, tied for fourth in the NL East, and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and All-Star hitters Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil highlight a promising core. But the Mets have several holes to fill in the rotation and lineup, and Porter indicated another priority is upgrading a player-development system light at the upper levels.

“He’s been on the job for just a couple of days, but he’s absolutely immersed himself in what we’re doing,” Alderson said.

The good news is Cohen has deep pockets and a willingness to spend. Alderson acknowledged the Mets are actively shopping at the top of the free-agent market — in “the gourmet section,” as he calls it.

“We’ve been running up and down that aisle over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Right now, things are a little slower in the gourmet section than they are in the meat department. But, that’ll change.”

Meanwhile, choices must be made.

Alderson said the Mets had discussions with free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, one of the biggest available prizes this offseason. However, they are close to completing a $40 million, four-year contract with catcher James McCann instead. Alderson hinted that deal could be finalized Wednesday or Thursday.

“I think that more than anything else this was a timing issue for us. We have a number of needs, and we can afford to wait to fill some of them. We can’t afford to wait to fill all of them,” Alderson said. “And so, this wasn’t a compromise pick. We’ve been engaged with James for a considerable period of time. There’s a lot we like about James.”

New York also is thought to be very interested in NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and star center fielder George Springer, both free agents.

Porter is pumped to have such investment resources at his disposal.

“I’ve interviewed other places. I’ve had opportunities. When this one came up, I was so excited,” he said. “This is a dream job for me.”

Porter will report to the 72-year-old Alderson, a former Mets GM who was brought back by Cohen and has taken over baseball operations. The idea is for Porter to grow into that role.

“I think it’s a flexible arrangement. I think that, for example, I’ve already turned a couple of things over to Jared,” Alderson said. “Right now it’s a situation that will evolve, but I think that we’ll be able to work really well together.”

IN THE DUGOUT

Alderson confirmed the Mets are hiring Dave Jauss as the new bench coach for second-year manager Luis Rojas. It’s a return engagement for Jauss, who was New York’s bench coach in 2010 under Jerry Manuel.

“Luis wanted him. Luis has known him a long time,” Alderson said.

Jauss, who turns 64 next month, also served as bench coach for the Red Sox, Dodgers, Orioles and Pirates, where he spent much of the past decade. He replaces Hensley Meulens and becomes the Mets’ fourth bench coach in four years.

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