PORT ST. LUCIE — Sandy Alderson may not know when he plans to step down, but the Mets GM hinted at who he thinks should step into the role once he does. In an interview with Baseball Night in New York recorded over the weekend that aired Monday night, Alderson endorsed assistant GM John Ricco.
“Not at the moment. I recognize the season is winding down,” Alderson said of contemplating the end of his career. “There are a lot of great people here, John Ricco and so forth, who deserve an opportunity as well.”
Alderson went on to tell co-host Andy Martino that Ricco will be a good GM someday.
“I think absolutely John will. He’s very, I hate to use the word analytical, but very organized, he understands the field side as well as the office side,” Alderson said. “There is a tremendous respect among those working with the Mets and throughout baseball. I think John at some point will do a great job.”
Last year, the News reported that Ricco, who was quietly given a promotion last winter as the top assistant to Alderson, was being groomed to step in when Alderson stepped aside. While the Mets won’t say he is the heir apparent, Ricco has some strong allies in the organization who want to see him in that role.
It would be the expected move, as Ricco has also been the face of the front office in Alderson’s absence.
He was the Mets’ pointman for the 2015 offseason — trying to sign Ben Zobrist and then quickly pivoting to trading for Neil Walker and signing Asdrubal Cabrera — as Alderson battled cancer. He has stepped in to speak to the media at the Winter Meetings and GM meetings several times in the past.
He is not unfamiliar to Mets fans, as he and Alderson split most of the Mets’ road trips to have at least one front office spokesperson available to the traveling media while the team is away from Citi Field. He keeps on top of the health reports and rehab of injured players for the front office and specializes in contracts and the collective bargaining agreement for the Mets.
The New Jersey native has been an assistant to three GMs in the Mets organization: Jim Duquette, Omar Minaya and Alderson. Before coming to the Mets, Ricco worked in the Commissioner’s office. He worked in the league’s waivers wire and then in players relations, which taught him the intricacies of contracts, arbitration and the collective bargaining agreement.
In 2004, Ricco brought all that experience to the Mets.
Alderson, 70, was given a two-year contract before this season, but at the same time the Mets ownership signaled that they were not thrilled with every aspect of his tenure. Fred Wilpon insisted on the return of Minaya, the former GM, to help rebuild the farm system.
Alderson, who is said to be free of the cancer he dealt with in 2015-16, said that after turning 70 last year, he has begun to think about retirement.
“It’s something I think about from time to time,” Alderson said. “I will say this though throughout my career, never really focused on the next thing. I’ve always said to myself and I tell people; focus on the job you have now, it’s the most important job you will ever have. If you do it well, people will notice, it will lead to opportunities you never could imagine.
“I have never been all that much self directed, but when you turn 70, you do start to think about those things. I enjoy what I am doing and as long as I have the opportunity and as long as I am capable, I enjoy it.”