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Sunday, December 12, 2021

GM meetings end with Mets’ front-office questions lingering

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CARLSBAD, Calif. — As Major League Baseball’s annual general managers’ meetings broke up Thursday, the Mets were still without a GM and uncertainty lingered over their timetable to hire one.

The Mets had multiple candidates in play upon team president Sandy Alderson’s departure a night earlier, with former Nationals assistant GM Adam Cromie and former Angels GM Billy Eppler at the forefront. Cromie met with Mets owner Steve Cohen earlier in the week after speaking in person with Alderson in Pittsburgh. Eppler spoke previously with the Mets, but it was unclear if he had gotten as far as a meeting with Cohen.

Eppler, 46, previously served as a top lieutenant to Brian Cashman with the Yankees before serving five seasons as Angels GM. He is currently employed by WME Sports, helping to lead the firm’s baseball representation business.

“I think Billy’s fantastic,” Cashman said before departing the GM Meetings. “Anybody who knows me knows my relationship with him. I was lucky to have him working with us. He guided us greatly. I know how good Billy really is. I don’t know what’s going on in other people’s world and he’s got a big job he’s currently doing.

Sandy Alderson, Adam Cromie, Billy Eppler
Sandy Alderson left the GM Meeting with two more candidates to be Mets GM, but no clear timetable for answers.
Corey Sipkin; AP Photo; Courtesy

“I’m not sure what’s out there in terms of the storylines. But I know his name has popped in. His name should pop into anything that pops up. He’s that talented.”

Cromie, 38, attended Georgetown Law while working for the Nationals, then departed the organization in 2017 to pursue a legal career. He is employed by the law firm Jones Day in Pittsburgh.

After high-profile candidates such as Theo Epstein, Billy Beane and David Stearns were removed from the board for various reasons in a search for a president of baseball operations — and others, such as Giants GM Scott Harris and Cardinals GM Mike Girsch, withdrew their names from consideration — the Mets pivoted toward a GM.

The Mets are expected to make another run at Stearns, the Brewers’ president of baseball operations, next offseason, after they were denied permission from Milwaukee to speak with him for a second straight year. Stearns’ contract holds an option for 2023, according to an industry source, but the Brewers may not hold full control over whether it’s exercised or not.

Alderson retook full control of the Mets’ baseball operations in September, after acting GM Zack Scott was placed on administrative leave for a DWI arrest (Scott has since been fired). Alderson has overseen the early offseason business, including the decisions to extend qualifying offers to Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard.

Once the Mets name a GM, they will move toward filling their managerial vacancy — Luis Rojas’ contract was allowed to expire in October — and completing the coaching staff. As it stands, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, whose 2022 option was picked up last month, is the only member of the staff in place.

Alderson was asked how the Mets intend to proceed with a potential work stoppage on the horizon — the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players’ union expires on Dec. 2.

“Right now we’re building for the season and for the future,” Alderson said. “We don’t really intend to slow down or stop except as we must, pursuant to the labor situation as it exists now through Dec. 2 and thereafter.”

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