The Mets announced Tuesday morning that they have hired ESPN analyst and former softball gold medalist Jessica Mendoza as an advisor to the baseball operations department. Per the official press release, Mendoza will focus on “player evaluation, roster construction, technological advancement, and health and performance.” It’s unclear exactly how extensive her day-to-day responsibilities will be, but she will retain her position as a color commentator on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
Mendoza’s hiring is transformative in an industry where front offices are almost totally male-dominated, and though this may not be a position that puts her on track to rise to a more substantial baseball operations role, the fresh perspective that she’ll be able to provide to new GM Brodie Van Wagenen — particularly as someone who’s spent the last three-and-a-half seasons traveling the country to watch nearly every team in the league up close — should be valuable regardless.
Understandably, some will question whether Mendoza has a conflict of interest in the SNB booth now that she’s employed by a major-league club. But in reality, numerous national broadcasters in recent years have performed their duties while on the payrolls of major-league clubs — Alex Rodriguez, one of Mendoza’s regular broadcast partners, is a special advisor to the Yankees, as is ESPN’s No. 1 fill-in analyst on SNB, David Ross, who is a special advisor to Theo Epstein in Chicago and literally played catch with former teammate Jason Heyward between innings of a Sunday Night game he was broadcasting in 2017. Other national broadcasters who are employed by teams or have continued doing TV while working for teams in recent years include Jim Kaat, Nick Swisher, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Ryan Dempster, and John Hart. Granted, Mendoza’s responsibilities may be more wide-ranging than those of the former major-leaguers listed above, but if she feels she can balance both, she’s certainly earned the right to try to do so.