NEW YORK -- The divorce of Omar Minaya and the Mets was amicable enough last October, both sides saying the right things publicly and going their own ways. Each party also left the door open for a future relationship, the details of which are beginning to brew.
Minaya's successor as general manager, Sandy Alderson, had dinner with Minaya earlier this month, the first face-to-face contact between the two men since Minaya's dismissal in early October. Though Alderson didn't discuss the details of his meeting, he did intimate that Minaya may be welcome back with the club in some capacity.
"We continue to have a good relationship," Alderson said at Wednesday's news conference to introduce infielder Chin-lung Hu. "At this point, [Minaya] will -- when he deems it appropriate -- give me another call and we'll see where it goes."
At a Police Athletic League dinner in Manhattan the following evening, Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon spoke more directly.
"I think Omar is a very good man and a good person also," Wilpon told reporters at the dinner. "I think the right position for Omar in this organization would be helpful -- to Omar and to the organization."
Wilpon openly described his vision for Minaya as "something to do with the baseball area, looking at talent, maybe in the international area." Scouting, in other words, though Wilpon used the phrase "senior advisor or special assistant" -- the latter a title also held by former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.
Despite Wilpon's eagerness, however, Minaya may not necessarily be amenable to returning in a reduced role. As Alderson pointed out, demotions can poke holes in one's vanity.
"If you look at it from Omar's perspective, coming back to the organization will require a certain adjustment from his standpoint: psychologically, emotionally," Alderson said. "He's got a lot of investment here. Coming back and interacting in a difference capacity is a change. I think anybody would need time to adjust to that. I don't think you should read anything into what has happened so far."
Leading the Mets from 2005-10, Minaya gained instant favor from the fan base for a series of bold trades and free-agent acquisitions, most notably bringing Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to Flushing. But a rash of unproductive signings and extensions in recent years led to payroll inflexibility and, eventually, Minaya's dismissal.
Though baseball has seen plenty of interim general managers stay on in lesser roles after their teams hired replacements, there is virtually no precedent for an established GM coming back in a reduced role. Gene Michael most famously did so, spending seven years as a scouting executive after leaving his post as Yankees GM. Others have served in advisory roles upon retirement.
Minaya, though, must now decide if he is willing to accept the limitations of such a role. There are benefits to doing so, to be certain. But for someone who spent six years as general manager of the Mets, falling back to a scouting job may not be so appealing -- even despite the owner's urgings.
"I'm in touch with Omar," Wilpon said. "I've talked to him two or three times, because I care about him and his family. Hopefully that will happen. He needs some time, and he's getting some time."