After ESPN details lewd, harassing messages to women reporters, Mets shoot GM Jared Porter
The New York Mets acted quickly to fire their new general manager, Jared Porter, on Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours after ESPN revealed that he had sent lewd text messages and photos to a female reporter in 2016, including one of an erect penis.
Mets owner Steve Cohen revealed in a tweet that he was firing himself. In November, Cohen became the majority owner of the Mets, pledging responsibility and honesty for an organization that had always lacked both, while in December, Porter, 41, was hired as GM.
"I spoke about the significance of integrity in my initial press conference and I meant it," Cohen wrote on Twitter. "For this type of conduct, there should be zero tolerance."
Major League Baseball expects to launch an investigation into Porter's conduct, verified Tuesday by a person familiar with those plans. The investigation, first reported by USA Today, may lead Porter to a leaguewide suspension that would force him to seek reinstatement if he hoped to function again in baseball.
According to ESPN, in 2016, when he was the director of professional scouting for the Chicago Cubs, Porter started messaging the female reporter whose name Withheld. The text stream lasted for months and eventually included photographs, one of which showed a man in his pants with a bulge, and finally, one of a naked, erect penis. At one point, Porter sent more than 60 messages which went unanswered, according to ESPN.
"The actions of Jared, as reflected by events revealed last night, failed to meet the professionalism and personal behavior standards of the Mets," Mets President Sandy Alderson said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Initially, Porter told ESPN that he did not submit the photos, but when advised that there were selfies among the pictures, he said: "The explicit ones are not mine." "Those are kind of joke-stock images." Porter's efforts to apologize to the woman were among the later text messages.
In 2016, in a Yankee Stadium elevator, the woman encountered Porter in person just once and the two exchanged business cards. In 2017, ESPN obtained the messages but did not report the story because the woman, who is not from the United States and does not speak English fluently, feared Porter's reprisal.
"The fact that she was alone in another country made it harder," she told ESPN through an interpreter. "I had no idea who to trust and rely upon."
According to ESPN, the woman does not work in journalism anymore and has returned to her home country. The woman sent a picture of herself in their messages, something she said was not uncommon in her country. The two had attempted to meet and Porter sent a flurry of texts as the arrangements kept falling through. Eventually, she confided in a player and an interpreter who helped her respond, according to ESPN.
This is very inappropriate, very insulting," she wrote, "and getting out of line. "Could you stop sending offensive pictures or MSG, please."
The woman told her bosses as well, who referred her from her home country to a lawyer and a Cubs employee. She told ESPN that she was advised by the employee that Porter wanted to apologize in person, which she didn't want to do, and encouraged her to take advantage of the situation.
The employee reported to ESPN that he had spoken with her about the matter. Asked about her argument that she was told to use the scenario, the worker responded: "I was just listening to both of them." I didn't want everything to be destroyed. I didn't even want to be on one side of it.
In a statement to ESPN late Monday, the Cubs said, "This story came to our attention tonight and we are not aware of this incident ever being reported to the organization." The team said the matter would be investigated.
The Mets have now been forced to terminate a manager and a GM in consecutive Januarys before either could preside over a single game in their positions. A year ago, just two months after it was announced that he had a major role in the sign-stealing scheme committed by the 2017 Houston Astros, for whom Beltrán had been a designated hitter, the Mets shot skipper Carlos Beltrán into the job.
The Wilpon family's purchase of the Mets by Cohen was cast as a new age for a franchise long plagued by dysfunction and internal intrigue. However, in a 2018 lawsuit against the hedge fund for which he worked as CEO, Point72 Asset Management, Cohen was also named, claiming unequal compensation practices and a sexist working climate. A settlement was reached, the particulars of which were not disclosed, and the case was moved to arbitration by a federal court in Manhattan.
In baseball's offseason talent marketplace, the Mets were among the most aggressive sellers, pulling off a blockbuster deal with the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor and agreeing a four-year, $40.6 million contract with free agent catcher James McCann.
Whether the Mets will make a move to substitute Porter as GM before the beginning of the 2021 season is uncertain. In baseball operations, Alderson, 73, has a large history and led the front office of the Mets before Porter was hired. The Mets also have an assistant GM, Zack Scott, who was hired by the Red Sox in Boston. He was a finalist who went to Porter for the GM position.