“At about 7:30 a.m., Steve (Cohen) and I had a conversation, and we had come to the same conclusion independently that the only course of action was to terminate Jared. It was a short conversation, and shortly thereafter I placed a call to Jared.”
Those are the words of Mets president of baseball operations Sandy Alderson, discussing the decision to fire former GM Jared Porter Tuesday morning on a Zoom meeting with the media later Tuesday.
Porter was “fired with cause,” Alderson said, after reports surfaced that he had sent more than 60 unsolicited, unanswered, and, in some cases, lewd text messages to a former MLB reporter back in 2016 when he worked for the Cubs.
Neither Alderson, nor the Mets, knew of the incident until around dinner time Monday night, when Porter made them aware of a brewing situation – and they did not even know the full breadth when they put out a team statement later in the night.
“I got a call from Jared about 5:30 indicating there would be an ESPN story regarding a series of incidents involving a woman, and for the first several hours before it was published, we discussed it with Jared and got his side of the story,” Alderson said. “It wasn’t until about 10:15 that I got to see a copy of the story, and it was pretty clear that this clear from the story that this was a significant issue and we needed to deal with it appropriately. The statement we sent out last night was crafted largely before we had a chance to read the story.”
Alderson’s initial reaction was shock, followed by disappointment and then anger, and reiterated that the team wasn’t aware of any of this prior to hiring Porter – and it would have immediately disqualified them if they had.
“With respect to this series of incidents – those are the kinds of things this organization finds abhorrent, and not tolerable in any way,” Alderson said. “We responded as quickly as we possibly could, given that we needed to sort out the facts and deliberate. I’m very sorry for the woman involved; it’s an unfortunate set of circumstances we weren’t aware of when Jared was hired, but suffice to say had we known in advance, it would have been a disqualifier.”
According to Alderson, Porter was forthcoming about the entire situation, but the team did not truly understand the full scope until reading Jeff Passan’s report.
“There was no explanation. It was really recounting what happened,” Alderson said. “As I said in the original release, he was apologetic and remorseful and took responsibility. There wasn’t really a good explanation for what happened, and I wouldn’t have expected it.”
What shocked Alderson even further is that Porter got glowing references from around the league, and everyone the team spoke to in vetting his references from the job – admittedly, none of which were women – and to his knowledge, none of Porter’s previous employers knew of this story, either.
“We had references from a variety of organizations and a number of individuals who had known him for a long time and endorsed him, and there wasn’t really a dissenting voice,” Alderson said. “This was a total surprise to us. From our standpoint, there was no disclosure of this, and we wouldn’t have hired Jared if we had known. The question is should we have known? We did a background check, and asked if there was anything else we needed to know. Given the length of time that’s transpired, I’m confident that this is not something we could have known about – to my knowledge, none of the other organizations for which Jared was employed knew about this, either.”
Alderson reiterated that the team did a basic background check and not “an FBI-level investigation,” but admitted that this may change the way the team vets future (or even current) employees.
“Risk exists with every employee that is hired; it’s hard to know someone inside and out today, but this is a wake-up call that clearly suggests that something like this can be out there on anyone, and we have to do our best to make sure that we know about that. There are limits to what we can actually get, particularly in a case like this where info is aged…as a club, we have to make sure we hire well-vetted employees, and this may mean we have to re-think what constitutes well-vetted.”
MLB has announced it will begin an investigation into the matter, and Alderson had to amend a scheduled all-staff Zoom call scheduled for this morning about “mission, values, and vision” to discuss the Porter saga instead.
“Steve has talked about zero tolerance, and I think that for incidents of this type and magnitude, that’s the response. We have to explore the facts, but this is not something we will tolerate as an organization,” Alderson said. “My goal was to put a good team on the field and change the culture – we’re not going to be able to do the latter unless we have very strict, and well-understood, approach to these kinds of situations. Every one of us reflects the Mets to somebody, and any time the Mets are associated with this kind of conduct, we take a hit. We are the sum of all the impressions we make, good and bad. When these situations arise, we have to respond appropriately. We won’t be Draconian, but our standards are very high, and need to be observed.”
That goes for players as well as front office and other employees – and Alderson even said that while he hasn’t heard from any players, he wishes the one anonymous player who did speak up “had the comfort to voice his opinion publicly.”
The culture “has to change from top down and bottom up” to really change, and while the incident may alter the Mets’ processes going forward, Alderson hopes the team’s swift reaction in this situation can help drive that change, and sends a message to women in sports.
“I think the message is don’t be discouraged. I think that the incident itself is discouraging, but I think the response to it by the Mets organization should be encouraging.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN