DePodesta, a highly regarded player evaluator with the Mets who previously worked for the Cleveland Indians, the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers, will advise the Brownsâ€™ majority owner, Jimmy Haslam, and the team president, Alec Scheiner.
After finishing 3-13, the Browns are again in rebuilding mode. On Sunday, they fired their head coach, Mike Pettine, and general manager, Ray Farmer, and more changes are expected.
But it is unlikely any will match the unusual nature of DePodestaâ€™s appointment. A 43-year-old Harvard graduate, he was part of the front-office brain trust that rebuilt the Mets and put them in the 2015 World Series, and he was viewed as the eventual successor to Sandy Alderson as the teamâ€™s general manager.
Instead, a man widely regarded for his analytics pedigree will switch sports and try to fix another broken team, the Browns.
â€œMy focus is to bring whatever experience and perspective I can to collaborate with the team, with the intent of helping us make more informed and successful decisions,â€ DePodesta said in a statement. â€œAdmittedly, there will be an awful lot for me to learn.â€
DePodesta will report directly to Haslam and will work with Sashi Brown, the Brownsâ€™ executive vice president of football operations.
DePodesta played both baseball and football at Harvard. But after injuring a shoulder, according to The Harvard Crimson, he left the baseball team and focused on football his senior year.
After graduating in 1995, he looked for jobs in football, but instead was hired by the Indians. Years later, he was featured in the Michael Lewis book â€œMoneyball,â€ about the analytics used by the Oakland Athletics, a low-budget team that overachieved when DePodesta was part of that front office.
His departure from the Mets comes at an awkward time for the team. He was a part of the front-office group put together by Alderson after he took over as the general manager after the 2010 season. Four more losing seasons followed, but in 2015 the Mets made a dramatic turnaround, and they seem likely to be a formidable club in 2016.
However, the Mets announced in early December that Alderson was receiving treatments for cancer, and it is unclear when he will return to his duties full time.
During his tenure in Flushing, DePodesta revamped the teamâ€™s scouting and player development departments. Along with two other Alderson deputies, John Ricco and J. P. Ricciardi, DePodesta was also heavily involved with the Metsâ€™ free-agent and trade decisions, as well as the teamâ€™s draft process, which yielded Michael Conforto, a key contributor to the 2015 team as a rookie left fielder.
DePodestaâ€™s one job in baseball as a general manager came with the Dodgers, in 2004 and 2005. He was just 31 when he was appointed to that job.
With the Mets, DePodesta rarely made public appearances at the ballpark and seemed to prefer staying out of the spotlight. Even though he served as a central figure in â€œMoneyball,â€ he declined to allow his name to be used in the film because he was uncomfortable having someone else portraying him to the world.
As for his decision to switch sports, there are precedents, but not all that many, although two-sport athletes have been relatively common over the years: Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders played baseball and football at the highest level, and many pro stars, like John Elway and Dave Winfield, chose one sport, though they had the talent to play two or more. But for coaches and executives, success in multiple sports is unusual.
Lou Saban, the longtime college and pro football coach, spent a year in the early 1980s as the president of the Yankees for his old friend George Steinbrenner, and the longtime Michigan coach Bo Schembechler capped his career with a short stint as president of the Detroit Tigers.
Mickey Loomis, the executive vice president and general manager of the New Orleans Saints, became the head of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans of the N.B.A. when the Saints owner Tom Benson bought the team in 2012. The former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs created a Nascar racing team, which has been quite successful, winning several championships.
Clive Woodward, who coached England to victory at the Rugby World Cup in 2003, switched to soccer and took over as performance director at Southampton. But his time there lasted only about a year.
Top executives, like Tom Garfinkel, formerly of baseballâ€™s Padres and now of footballâ€™s Dolphins, and Mark Lamping of baseballâ€™s Cardinals, footballâ€™s Jaguars and Fulham of soccer, have also made the switch, although their responsibilities have often been more on the business side and less on evaluating talent.