After all, Alderson and the Mets pursued Bauer until the end — and even thought they had a deal with the polarizing right-hander at one point. If missing out on Bauer qualified as dodging a bullet, what did it say about the Mets that it was a bullet Alderson and his staff had once seemed more than willing to take?
Bauer has since ignited Twitter spats with Mets starter Noah Syndergaard and others, engaged with Dodgers fans questioning his stances on immigration and avoided apologizing for bullying social media behavior, particularly toward women, when asked about it during his Los Angeles news conference debut. Asked Monday about the decision to pursue Bauer, Alderson admitted he may not have known exactly what the Mets were getting themselves into.
“He would have added a dimension to our team — maybe a third or fourth dimension — and hard to know how that would have turned out,” Alderson said. “But we thought we could manage it. Maybe that was naive.”
The Mets’ pursuit of Bauer was colored by multiple reports that emerged in ESPN and the Athletic detailing sexual harassment of female reporters and employees by now-fired general manager Jared Porter, now-fired manager Mickey Callaway and hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis.
Those reports painted a picture of an organization that seemed unwilling or unable to confront misogynistic behavior and sexual harassment on the part of its most visible employees. They made the pursuit of Bauer — who has attacked many women on social media while leaving men who offered similar critiques alone — a little more confounding for an organization promising change.
Alderson did not try to dodge the question when it came to the mixed messages his team’s pursuit of Bauer may have sent to some offended by Bauer’s choices on social media. He said he and his staff did their homework on the right-hander. He said they consulted women in the organization for their perspectives and made clear to Bauer’s agent that he would be expected to take responsibility publicly for past mistakes if he were to come to Queens.
“We had internal conversations talking about his social media presence and how it might differ from others and their social media presence, whether that presence was directed at a certain group of people or whether it was generally aggressive,” said Alderson, who admitted he never spoke to Bauer directly.
“We weren’t being naive in the sense of, ‘Okay, we can turn this guy around on a dime and turn him into something he wasn’t before,’ ” Alderson said. “We felt we could manage it. It’s possible we wouldn’t have been able to, but at this point we don’t have to worry about it.”
Alderson, who was rehired by the Mets after the 2020 season and oversaw the hiring of Callaway in his previous tenure and Porter during his current one, did admit the Mets have changes to make in terms of hiring practices outside of player procurement. While he acknowledged that the Mets have had little staff hiring to do since the reports about Porter and Callaway surfaced, he said the Mets’ front office plans to make background checks more thorough and to include more women in the process.
“With respect to the vetting process, we’re being more intentional about communicating with women who may have had some contact — not necessarily fellow employees, but third parties that may have come in contact,” Alderson said. “There are going to be situations hopefully we can uncover by reaching out to constituencies — women and others — outside a single organization.”
The 73-year-old admitted that with Callaway, the Mets’ front office had probably maintained too “narrow a focus” on his baseball reputation. In the Athletic story in which five women accused Callaway of lewd behavior, one person suggested even a cursory vetting of the current Angels pitching coach’s personal life would have raised red flags.
“When we hired Mickey, Mickey was a hot commodity. There were a number of teams that were anxious to talk to him and wanted to sign him to a contract. We felt very fortunate at the time to get him based on his reputation in the game,” Alderson said. “Now, was that shortsighted on our part? Was it too narrow a focus? I think the answer is probably yes. And certainly, in retrospect, there probably should have been a broader assessment of his qualifications.”
Alderson said the people they talked to about Callaway before hiring him offered no reservations at the time. The takeaway, he said, is the Mets need to talk to more people.
“I think we learned that lesson,” Alderson said. “I think the process currently that we have is, and will be, broader than it was.”