Could Kim Ng’s next stop be with the Mets, Red Sox or even Yankees?

I long ago lost count of how many “why this free agent makes sense for these four/five/six teams” pieces I’ve written for Sporting News. Technically, this article fits that same genre, but in reality it’s very, very different. 

This one’s about a premium front office free agent, Kim Ng.

The Miami Marlins’ former general manager declined her half of the mutual option with the club on Monday, and she immediately vaults to the top of the want list for several teams. She worked wonders revamping the Marlins’ roster, finding the pieces — the players and coaches — that helped the team make a surprising run to the 2023 postseason. 

For her efforts, the Marlins wanted her back. That wasn’t surprising. We’ll find out more about Ng’s decision to decline the 2024 option in upcoming days, surely. Lots of questions. Was there an extension offer? Did owner Bruce Sherman just basically exercise the 2024 option? That’s a tough spot for any GM. Derek Jeter was instrumental in her hiring, and he’s gone now. Was that a big factor? Was the financial commitment to improving not there? How much can/should we read into what Ng told The Athletic’s Tyler Kepner?

Wasn’t long before ESPN’s Jeff Passan shed a little light onto the situation. 

Yes, it feels odd to read that a GM declined an option. Just like it feels a bit strange to know that Craig Counsell managed out his final year under contract with the Brewers, and that the Brewers would love him back but instead soon he’ll be a free agent. These sort of things happen with players all the time, though. Just last fall, for example, Justin Verlander declined his mutual option with the Astros. When players prove worth that exceeds what is on the table, they explore options. Same thing Ng is doing. 

We’ll get to the why at some point down the road. Today, the focus is Ng’s potential next stops. Because, let’s be honest, it’s one heck of a time to be a front-office free agent, especially one who is coming off such a successful and surprising season. Some big-name teams — with big budgets — are looking (or soon might be looking) for people who fit Ng’s qualifications. 

Let’s jump in.

Kim Ng’s fit with the New York Mets

It took about six nanoseconds for this connection to be made on social media, at least speculatively. Owner Steve Cohen recently landed his ideal president of baseball operations, David Stearns, and was set to move forward with Billy Eppler maintaining his role as general manager. But then, a few days after Stearns’ introductory press conference, Eppler surprisingly stepped down. And shortly after that, news was reported — leaked, to be sure — that Eppler was being investigated by MLB for shady manipulation of how his club used the Injured List. On the scale of things Mets employees have been investigated for, it’s pretty benign, but it was enough to create an opening in New York’s front office.

So that role is up for grabs, and the idea of Ng and Stearns working together with Cohen’s massive budget has to be appealing for Mets fans. Both worked wonders with severe limitations in their previous stops — Stearns in Milwaukee and Ng in Miami. Can’t help but think of the success the Dodgers have experienced under Andrew Friedman, who was basically a wizard with Tampa Bay’s limitations and then was hired by the Dodgers after the 2014 season. Yes, the club has experienced October frustration, but Friedman’s clubs have made the postseason every single year under his watch, and have won at least 100 games — or played above a 100-win pace, in the shortened 2020 season — six of the past seven years. 

Could the Stearns/Ng duo follow a similar blueprint, freed up to match their baseball intellect with a budget capable of making things happen? Ng, remember, has experience in the New York market. Not only does she have extensive time working for MLB, but she was the assistant GM for the Yankees from 1998 to 2001 (hmm …).

MORE: Offseason priorities for the Mets

Kim Ng’s fit with the Boston Red Sox

Truth is, being a front office guru for a small-budget franchise doesn’t guarantee a successful transition to a larger-market club. The Red Sox’s current opening is Exhibit A. Chaim Bloom, like Friedman, worked wonders for Tampa Bay, but wasn’t able to repeat that in Boston. That’s not to say he’s entirely to blame, or even mostly to blame. Bloom didn’t get nearly the help from ownership that he probably expected, and it certainly didn’t help that his first significant move of his time with the franchise — trading icon Mookie Betts — was a disaster, for many reasons. Bloom was let go in mid-September. 

But, again, for Boston it’s not as much about the “why” as the “what’s next” for the club. The Red Sox have finished last in the AL East three of the past four seasons, and the competition in the division isn’t getting any easier any time soon. At some point, ownership has to spend and act like a World Series contender again, right? 

Red Sox manager Alex Cora know Ng well, from their time together in the Dodgers’ organization, where Ng was from 2002 to 2011, as the assistant general manager and the club’s vice president. Cora was very complimentary of Ng when she was hired by the Marlins. The relationship between the front-office decision-maker and the manager matters. In an interview about an unrelated story that seems relevant to this conversation, MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds told me this: “I’ve always said the number one most important relationship in any organization is the GM and the manager.”

MORE: Offseason priorities for the Red Sox

Kim Ng’s fit with the New York Yankees

The Yankees don’t have an opening at the moment. But the franchise is coming off a bitterly disappointing season, and owner Hal Steinbrenner brought in an outside firm to conduct an audit of how the club operates. His comments since that process started haven’t exactly screamed “big change coming” but he did throw out the “Anything’s possible” comment when asked about personnel changes last week. 

A change at the decision-making top would certainly be a huge move for the Yankees, and more fans of the club don’t believe Steinbrenner has the stomach for that sort of seismic shift. Brian Cashman has been the Yankees’ GM since 1998, and he started with the organization a dozen years earlier. The Yankees have made the playoffs 21 times in his 26 years at the helm, won 100-plus games seven times and won the World Series four times, but not since 2009. 

If Steinbrenner is considering this type of change, maybe Ng would be the perfect choice? She was with the Yankees as Cashman’s assistant GM during the glory years, remember. She held that role from 1998-2001, and the Yankees won the World Series three of those four seasons. That’s a pretty good pinstripe pedigree. And Ng would certainly get the Jeter endorsement, should Steinbrenner decide to part with Cashman; Jeter hired her as the Marlins GM when he was the team’s CEO, but he split from the club in February 2022.  

MORE: Offseason priorities for the Yankees

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