The New York Mets moved swiftly Tuesday morning to fire their new general manager, Jared Porter, less than 12 hours after ESPN reported he had sent inappropriate text messages and pictures, including one of an erect penis, to a female reporter in 2016.
“In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
Major League Baseball plans to open an investigation of Porter’s actions, a person familiar with those plans confirmed. That investigation, first reported by USA Today, could result in a suspension for Porter that would require him to petition for reinstatement if he hoped to work in baseball again.
We have terminated Jared Porter this morning . In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it.There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) January 19, 2021
According to ESPN, Porter began texting the female reporter, whose name it withheld, in 2016, when he was the director of professional scouting for the Chicago Cubs. The stream of texts lasted for months and eventually included pictures, one of which showed a man with a bulge in his pants, and finally, one of a naked, erect penis. At one point, according to ESPN, Porter sent more than 60 messages that went unanswered.
“Those are the kinds of things that this organization and many others find abhorrent and not tolerable in any shape or form,” Mets President Sandy Alderson told reporters during a video conference call Tuesday afternoon.
Alderson said the Mets were unaware of the 2016 messages when they hired Porter and that they fully vetted his background before his hiring. The reviews of Porter, Alderson said, were “glowing.” But when asked if the Mets spoke to any women about Porter, he acknowledged they did not.
Porter initially told ESPN he did not send the pictures, but when informed there were selfies among the photos, he said: “The explicit ones are not of me. Those are, like, kind of joke stock images.” Among the later text messages were attempts by Porter to apologize to the woman.
The woman met Porter in person only once, when the two exchanged business cards in a Yankee Stadium elevator in 2016. ESPN obtained the messages in 2017 but did not report the story because the woman, who is not from the United States and is not fluent in English, feared reprisal from Porter.
“Being alone in a different country made it tougher,” she told ESPN through an interpreter. “I didn’t know who to trust and rely on.”
The woman no longer works in journalism, according to ESPN, and has returned to her home country. In their texts, the woman sent a photo of herself, something she said was not unusual in her country. The two had attempted to meet and, as the plans kept falling through, Porter sent a flurry of texts. She eventually confided in a player and an interpreter who, according to ESPN, helped her respond.
“This is extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line,” she wrote, per ESPN. “Could you please stop sending offensive photos or msg.”
The woman also told her supervisors, who referred her to a lawyer and a Cubs employee from her home country. She told ESPN that the employee informed her that Porter wanted to meet so he could apologize in person, something she did not want to do, and urged her to use the situation to her advantage.
The employee confirmed for ESPN that he had discussed the matter with her. Asked about her claim that she had been told to take advantage of the situation, the employee replied: “I was just listening to both. I didn’t want to ruin anything. I didn’t want to be on one side.”
“This story came to our attention tonight and we are not aware of this incident ever being reported to the organization,” the Cubs said in a statement to ESPN late Monday. The team said it would investigate.
In successive Januarys, the Mets have been forced to terminate a manager and a GM before either could preside over a single game. A year ago, the Mets fired manager Carlos Beltrán only two months into the job after it was revealed he played a major role in the sign-stealing scheme perpetrated by the 2017 Houston Astros, for whom Beltrán had been a designated hitter.
Cohen’s takeover of the Mets from the Wilpon family was cast as a new era for a franchise often beset by dysfunction and internal intrigue. However, Cohen was also named in a 2018 lawsuit against the hedge fund for which he served as CEO, Point72 Asset Management, alleging unfair pay practices and a sexist work environment. A settlement was reached, the details of which were not revealed, and a federal court in Manhattan moved the case to arbitration.
The Mets have been among the most aggressive buyers in baseball’s offseason talent marketplace, pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor and signing catcher James McCann to a four-year, $40.6 million contract.
Alderson said the Mets would not replace Porter before the start of the season, with Alderson himself leading the team’s baseball operations. Alderson, 73, has a vast background in running big league front offices. The Mets also have an assistant GM, Zack Scott, whom they hired away from the Boston Red Sox. He was a finalist for the GM job that went to Porter, and he could be considered for the job again at some point.