Jessica Mendoza, the ESPN analyst and special adviser to the Mets who was heavily criticized last month for her comments on the Astros sign-stealing scandal, has resigned from her job with the Mets. The resignation is tied to a change in her job responsibilities with ESPN.
“We are happy for Jessica Mendoza who will be expanding her role at ESPN,” Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets general manager, who hired Mendoza, tweeted. “To focus more on those new responsibilities she will no longer be a Special Advisor to the Mets.”
When the Mets hired Mendoza — a former Olympic gold medalist in softball who has been a full-time analyst on ESPN’s flagship “Sunday Night Baseball” telecasts since 2016 — they touted her as an outside-the-box hire who would bring a fresh perspective to the team.
But working for two different employers soon caused headaches.
She was asked how she could objectively analyze the Mets, or their division opponents, while she was a Mets employee. Some players were reluctant to speak with her in her role as an ESPN employee, worried they would be giving insight to the Mets. The Los Angeles Dodgers went so far as to ban Mendoza from their clubhouse, as well as David Ross, an ESPN analyst who is also an adviser to the Chicago Cubs.
Appearing on a number of ESPN programs last month, Mendoza chastised Mike Fiers — the former Astros pitcher whose revelation of the sign-stealing scheme to a reporter triggered M.L.B.’s investigation — for speaking out. Fiers “ratted everyone out,” she said.
One of the players Fiers “ratted” out was Carlos Beltran, who at the time of Mendoza’s comments was still the Mets manager. She was less forthright when commenting on her co-worker, the only player named in M.L.B.’s report on the cheating scandal. “It is not as simple as he was in charge or he was a bench coach,” she said. Later that day, the Mets let Beltran go.
Mendoza was far from the only person working for both a media company and a baseball team. Besides her and Ross, Alex Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez and Al Leiter have all worn two different hats in recent years.
Asked yesterday if he was comfortable with people sometimes representing a team and sometimes representing a media network, M.L.B. Commissioner Rob Manfred was clear. “No. I’m not all that comfortable with it,” he said at an owner’s meeting in Orlando, Fla., according to the New York Post. “I’m really not. But it’s a topic that remains under discussion internally. As you know, it causes a lot of complications, not just on this particular incident or comments, but in general.”
ESPN hailed Mendoza in a news release, announcing she was being signed to a contract extension and would have new responsibilities for the upcoming season. She will appear more frequently across the network’s studio shows, will be the sole analyst on a number of weeknight and holiday baseball games and will also be a radio analyst for World Series games.
While it is more work, it is also lower-profile work. Mendoza will no longer appear on “Sunday Night Baseball.” ESPN did not name a replacement.