After hiring Andy Green away from the Cubs for a senior player development role, the Mets are adding another name to their front office today. Per Joe Doyle of FSS Plus, the club has hired Astros scouting director Kris Gross to oversee their amateur scouting department. While Gross’s title with the Mets is not yet confirmed, Will Sammon and Chandler Rome of The Athletic suggest that he will be a vice president in New York, with Doyle suggesting his title is “believed” to be VP of Amateur Scouting.
Gross, 42, was a pitcher in the Cubs’ minor league system from 2003 to 2005. After retiring from his playing career, Gross began his scouting career with the Cardinals in 2009 before joining the Astros as a crosschecker in 2012. Gross was promoted to his most recent role of scouting director following the 2018 season. Right-hander Hunter Brown, catcher Korey Lee, and top outfield prospect Drew Gilbert are among the more notable names the Astros drafted under Gross’s watch, which coincided with the club’s loss of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 due to the club’s electronic sign stealing scandal. Brown has a career 4.60 ERA and 4.10 FIP with a 26.8% strikeout rate across 176 big league innings the past two seasons with Houston, while Lee and Gilbert were utilized at the trade deadline earlier this year to land right-handers Kendall Graveman and Justin Verlander, respectively.
Rome and Sammon note that although Gross was the person in charge of Houston’s 2023 draft, GM Dana Brown had more direct influence over the process than former GMs James Click or Jeff Luhnow did in the past. Brown’s involvement in the draft process was hardly a surprise given his background as VP of scouting with the Braves, and the pair note that Brown and Gross enjoyed a strong working relationship in 2023. Still, it’s possible that Brown’s hands-on approach to the draft could leave the Astros in better position to absorb the loss of Gross than may otherwise be expected.
In departing Houston, Gross heads to New York to join new Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns, whom Gross overlapped with in Houston during Stearns’s years as assistant GM of the Astros. Sammon and Rome also point out that one of Stearns’s perceived weaknesses during his tenure in the top job with the Brewers was the club’s record in the draft, a flaw that the addition of Gross could help to assuage. After a difficult 2023 season that leaves the Mets’ plans for 2024 and beyond murkier than expected, Gross is set to join a Mets organization that has made clear their intention to prioritize bolstering the club’s farm system.
To this point, the club has gotten a solid head start on that goal and currently ranks seventh in the majors per Fangraphs. That being said, the Mets also watched top talents such as Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, and Ronny Mauricio struggle in their first tastes of big league action in 2023 even as young catcher Francisco Alvarez held his own while stepping into an everyday role with the club. The struggles from Baty, who was a consensus top-3o prospect entering the 2023 campaign but slashed just .212/.275/.323 in 108 games with the Mets this year, and others underscore the work still left to do for Gross and the rest of the front office.