PORT ST. LUCIE — Al Leiter is ditching the Yankees TV booth for a seat within Brodie Van Wagenen’s cabinet.
Leiter, who suited up for both New York teams during his near two decades in the big leagues, will serve as a baseball operations advisor for the Mets, the team announced on Monday. Club ambassador and icon John Franco will also expand his role and join Leiter in the same capacity.
“I am thrilled to be reunited with the Mets organization, which I hold so near and dear to my heart,” Leiter said in a statement. “I grew up a fan of the team and then was fortunate enough to realize my childhood dream of pitching for the Mets.
“Now, thanks to the Wilpon family and to Brodie, I’m privileged to have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the future of the organization. I couldn’t be more appreciative or more excited.”
Leiter, embarking upon his first career front-office role, returns to Flushing after pitching for the Mets from 1998 to 2004 – earning his second All-Star nod in his third season with the Mets. He was most recently a broadcaster for YES, home of the Yankees, before stepping down earlier this winter.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Leiter will keep his broadcasting position with the MLB Network, in addition to his new role as Mets baseball operations advisor.
The 53-year-old’s responsibilities will include a focus on scouting and player development with an emphasis on mental preparation for pitchers alongside talent evaluation.
Van Wagenen said he expects both Leiter and Franco to pay visits to the Citi Field executive suite, chime in on Mets front-office decisions, as well as being sent out for special scouting assignments. Van Wagenen said he had conversations with Leiter two weeks after taking over the Mets front office. Franco will join the Mets at spring training on March 11 and Leiter will travel to Port St. Lucie on March 17.
“I think (Leiter) feels a connection to the organization,” Van Wagenen said. “For us, it was our belief in him to add real value. This wasn’t just a name on a business card or a token hire. We really think Al can come in and be a real positive influence on a lot of players, and then help us make good decisions on roster construction as well.”
Franco, the former longtime closer, has served as a Mets club ambassador since 2010.
“John has been with the organization for a long time,” Van Wagenen said. “He’s been very active in community service but to be able to bring him into the fold and start to become an advisor in the baseball operations department … we’re excited.”