Sports media outlet The Athletic is hiring at least five MLB beat writers in disparate markets to fill out its MLB coverage, Deadspin has learned.
According to people familiar with the hires, The Athletic has hired Marc Carig to cover the Yankees, Pedro Moura to cover the Angels and the Dodgers, C. Trent Rosecrans to stay on the Reds beat, and Matt Gelb to cover the Phillies.
Additionally, former White Sox reporter Dan Hayes announced today that he will be covering the Twins for The Athletic Minnesota.
Carig has covered the Mets for Newsday since 2012, but was previously on the Yankees beat for the New Jersey Star-Ledger for three years. Moura began covering the Angels for the Los Angeles Times during the 2016 season, having previously covered both Los Angeles–area teams for the OC Register. Rosecrans is a veteran reporter and columnist on Cincinnati sports, covering the Reds for the Cincinnati Enquirer since the 2013 season. Gelb has covered the Phillies for nearly 10 years for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. Hayes has spent the last five years covering the White Sox for NBC Sports Chicago.
Sources say that the company met with baseball writers at the Winter Meetings in Orlando in December, and was aggressively courting those in big markets and small, on beats and on a national level.
The Athletic co-founder Alex Mather said in a text that “[w]e have no news at this time, but will let you know as soon as we do,” when asked about the hires. The company would not comment further when reached this week.
Moura, Rosecrans, Carig, and Gelb would not comment for this story.
The Athletic currently highlights baseball coverage of eight teams, some of which are based in markets where they have already created specific sites—Chicago, the Bay Area, Detroit—which are populated by a mix of staff writers and freelancers. Former Fox Sports insider Ken Rosenthal currently heads up The Athletic’s national baseball coverage, and Andrew Baggarly was recently poached from the distressingly decimated Mercury News to join his former colleague, Tim Kawakami, at The Athletic’s Bay Area site.
In an October interview with The New York Times, Mather made waves by saying the goal of his company was to “wait every local paper out and let them continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing.” He later walked that statement back, saying he did the interview after drinking “three cold brews” (coffee, not beer), and issued an apology.
Baggarly told Deadspin the The Athletic offers the freedom to cover teams and games without an intense focus on twice-daily deadlines or gamers. Beyond flexibility, an obvious appeal of The Athletic is that they can—and do, according to people who have received estimates and offers from the company—provide a pay increase to writers who are used to traditional newspaper salaries.
Going after experienced and well-regarded baseball beat writers tracks with The Athletic’s overall hiring philosophy, which so far has seemed to put an emphasis on poaching writers with established followings that are more likely to be counted on to pony up for the site’s subscription fee.
If The Athletic’s ultimate goal really is to bleed out local sports sections, poaching some of the biggest names from beats around the country isn’t a bad place to start. If you’re a local sports editor, hold your beat writer close.