Mets GM Van Wagenen, others out as Cohen takes over team
NEW YORK — New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and many of his top aides are out, moves announced less than an hour after hedge fund manager Steve Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the team Friday.
Special Assistant to the general manager Omar Minaya, assistant general managers Allard Baird and Adam Guttridge and executive director of player development Jared Banner also are leaving.
The status of senior vice president and senior strategy office John Ricco was not mentioned.
Cohen ended the Wilpon family’s control of the franchise after 34 mostly frustrating years and took the title of chief executive officer. He hired former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as team president in his first move and ended Jeff Wilpon’s tenure as chief operating officer.
Alderson, not Cohen, announced the baseball staff departures and said he had started the process of building a leadership staff.
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“This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise,” Cohen said in a statement. “The 2021 season is right around the corner and we’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’m excited to get started.”
Van Wagenen was a player agent and co-head of CAA Baseball before Wilpon hired him to replace Alderson after the 2018 season. The Mets went 86-76, finishing third in the NL East. and Van Wagenen fired manager Mickey Callaway and replaced him with Carlos Beltrán.
But when Beltrán was implicated in January by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal during Beltrán’s final season as a player in 2017, Beltrán lost his job within days without managing a game and was replaced by qualify control coach Luis Rojas. New York went 26-34 and missed the expanded playoffs.
Friday’s moves make Rojas’ future uncertain.
Fired Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who completed a season-long suspension last week, could be a candidate for the analytics-oriented Cohen.
Many of Van Wagenen’s moves failed to work out, including acquiring second baseman Robinson Canó and signing free agents Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. All three were among his former clients.
Cohen’s purchase, approved 26-4 by baseball owners on Oct. 30, is worth $2.4 billion to $2.45 billion. It is a record price for a baseball team, topping the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management in 2012.
An entity controlled by Cohen owns 95% of the franchise, and the Wilpon and Katz families retain 5% of the team.
Cohen pledged to inject about $9.5 million in additional payments this offseason for pandemic-hit employees.
Source: Red Sox to rehire Cora
BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox will rehire Alex Cora as manager, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press, restoring him to the dugout less than a year after letting him go because of his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity on Friday because the sides were still finalizing terms of the agreement and the move was not ready to be announced.
The decision came about a week after Cora finished serving a one-season suspension assessed by Commissioner Rob Manfred for Cora’s cheating while bench coach of the Houston Astros during their run to the World Series championship in 2017. Cora joined the Red Sox in November 2017 and led Boston to the 2018 World Series title after a franchise-record 108 regular-season wins.
Boston finished third in 2019, and Cora was identified by Manfred last Jan. 13 as the ringleader in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme, with his penalty held off until Manfred ruled on sign stealing allegations against Boston. An infielder on Boston’s 2007 champions, Cora was mentioned 11 times in Manfred’s decision on the Astros.
The fallout from the Astros investigation also cost Houston manager AJ Hinch and newly hired New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán their jobs.
Hinch was hired as Detroit Tigers manager on Oct. 30 after completing a one-season suspension. Beltrán was a player on the 2017 Astros and was implicated by Manfred in the cheating scheme but not players were disciplined.
Manfred absolved Cora of misconduct while with the Red Sox in his report on April 22 and suspended Cora through the World Series for his conduct with Houston. Ron Roenicke, promoted from bench coach to Cora’s replacement, was let go after the salary-shedding Red Sox stumbled to a last-place finish in the AL East.
Baseball Digest picks Cronenworth, Lewis as rookies of year
NEW YORK — San Diego infielder Jake Cronenworth and Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis have been chosen as rookies of the year by Baseball Digest.
The magazine made the announcement Thursday.
Cronenworth won the NL honor. Traded from Tampa Bay to the Padres last December, he hit .285 and helped San Diego reach the playoffs.
The 26-year-old who played all over the infield led NL rookies in runs (26) and extra-base hits (22).
Milwaukee reliever Devin Williams and Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin tied for second in the voting by a media panel.
Lewis earned the AL award. The center fielder hit 11 home runs, tied with White Sox outfielder Luis Robert for the most among all rookies. He batted .262 and topped big league rookies in runs (37), total bases (90) and on-base percentage (.364).
Robert finished second and Oakland catcher Sean Murphy was third in the AL voting.
Baseball Digest has selected rookies of the year since 1972.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year awards in the AL and NL on Monday.