Mets team president Sandy Alderson insisted he did the necessary background checks on Jared Porter, speaking with references from different organizations before naming him general manager last month.
“There wasn’t really a dissenting voice,” he said.
So much so that Alderson said he was shocked to learn Porter sexually harassed a female reporter while working for the Cubs in 2016, sending her dozens of text messages including several lewd photographs.
ESPN broke the story on Monday night and Porter was fired less than nine hours later by Mets owner Steve Cohen.
There was little choice given Porter admitted to his actions and that Cohen’s financial firm, Point72 Asset Management, reached a settlement last year with a female employee regarding her claims of a sexist work environment.
“There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior,” Cohen wrote on Twitter.
Major League Baseball will be further investigating the matter and Alderson suggested Porter could face “significant consequence” as a result. It seems unlikely he will ever work in organized baseball again or will face a reinstatement hearing before he could.
Alderson said several times that the Mets carefully vetted Porter and he doesn’t know what else the organization could have done that would have revealed the harassment beyond an FBI-style background check.
“I don’t believe that any of the people who were references could have predicted this from their professional relationship with Jared,” he said.
When asked if his research into Porter included reaching out to any women, Alderson was quiet for a few seconds.
“No,” he said. “That’s one of the unfortunate circumstances that exist in the game today. There aren’t women in those positions with whom one can have a conversation and develop information.”
It was a telling answer. While Porter bears full responsibility for his actions, Alderson’s admission underscores that while an increasing number of women are working in and around baseball, more are needed and at higher levels within baseball operations departments for the atmosphere around the game to further evolve.
It would be naïve to believe Porter’s actions were an isolated incident. They weren’t.
“This culture has to change from within,” Alderson said. “And not necessarily top down. It has to be top down and bottom up.”
More care has to be taken, too. Consider that Alderson, while forthright in his comments, also mentioned what country the woman Porter harassed was from.
This was a detail ESPN intentionally omitted from its story at the victim’s request to protect her identity and because she feared retribution for coming forward or being shamed in her homeland. She no longer works in journalism.
Porter and the woman met briefly at Yankee Stadium before he started texting, inviting her to meet him in different cities and sending the vulgar photographs.
The messages stopped only after the woman asked for help from an interpreter and told Porter he was being inappropriate.
A Minnesota native, the 41-year-old Porter moved to Duxbury as a teenager and graduated from Thayer Academy and Bowdoin College before joining the Red Sox as an intern in 2004.
Porter rose to professional scouting director, then joined the Cubs in 2015 before moving on to the Diamondbacks.
“The information detailed in Monday night’s report is deeply troubling. We are not aware of any occasion in which Jared Porter did not comply with our workplace policies during his time as a member of the Red Sox front office,” Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.
“We fully recognize, however, that many instances of inappropriate behavior go unreported. [Tuesday], we reiterated to our employees our commitment to a respectful and inclusive environment, and a culture where employees feel comfortable reporting inappropriate behavior without fear of retribution.”
The Cubs and Diamondbacks released similar statements.
The Mets have no immediate plans to name a replacement for Porter. Alderson will continue to run baseball operations with increased help from assistant GM Zack Scott, who was hired away from the Red Sox.
“It was late in the process when we made a search for a GM, we’re even later now,” Alderson said. “While Jared presents a void, I’m very confident in the group we have.”