2020 Mets: On Why Van Wagenen Needs A Two-Year Budget

2020 Mets Brass (Photo: Mets Merized)

The birth of the 2020 Mets begins tomorrow. Van Wagenen and the team will better be served with a two-year budget window. I’ll explain…

The 2020 Mets, for the most part, are Brodie Van Wagenen’s adopted baby to care for and nurture. The baby’s birth parents or owners in the illustration are Fred and Jeff Wilpon, with an active and influential assist from Saul Katz.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen - Is Jeff Wilpon Listening? (Photo: Newsday)
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen – Is Jeff Wilpon Listening? (Photo: Newsday)

The Wilpons will, and maybe already have, provide Van Wagenen with an allowance to rear the 2020 Mets. From there, Van Wagenen is given wide latitude in how and where he spends the benefit.

Mostly, the baby’s parents expect only to see their child emerge as a productive and successful adult. They are not interested in the day-to-day decisions of their caretaker.

However, if the caretaker reports to them the child wants to go to Harvard instead of SUNY Albany, that’s a different matter, and they will insist on making the final call.

Most major league teams operate in the same manner. The only difference, of course, is that some owners provide bigger allowances than others for their general managers.

I’ll be kind and say the Wilpons provide a budget with significant “fiscal constraints” to Brodie Van Wagenen. Yesterday’s column, for instance, dealt with salary subtractions from the 2020 Mets that Van Wagenen must first make before he can add to the team.

On Why Van Wagenen Should Demand A Two-Year Budget

The 2020 Mets will be better served if the Brodie Van Wagenen can convince the Wilpons to provide him with a two-year budget instead of the year-to-year norm.

Van Wagenen’s arsenal in making his case to the Wilpons can be seen in this table: Note: For a Better View – Click Here.

Mets Payroll 2020 Forward (Source: Spotrac)
Mets Payroll 2020 Forward (Source: Spotrac)

Notice what happens between 2020 and 2021 – the payroll the Mets are committed to in salaries gets cut almost in half in 2021. The number of players the team is committed to drops from 32 to 26. Plus, the $14 million under Retained/Deferred disappears (David Wright and Jason Vargas).

Now, before we get crazy, you’ll also notice the Mets have no outfield in this table for 2021. But that is precisely the point. Who plays the outfield and what their salaries are should be the prerogative of Brodie Van Wagenen.

The Wilpons only need to fill in the numbers at the top of the chart for both 2020 and 2021 – and then let Van Wagenen take it from there.

Obviously (yikes, we hope not), the Mets will not field a team in 2021 for $69 million. And the $124 million the organization is committed to for 2020 will probably end up closer to the $160 million allocated for 2019.

Putting The Argument For Two-Years In Practical Terms

Amed Rosario Proves He Belongs in 2019 (Photo: Newsday.com)
Amed Rosario Proves He Belongs in 2019 (Photo: Newsday.com)

In practical terms, the difference between a one-year and two-year budget being at Van Wagenen’s disposal is similar to getting paid weekly versus bi-weekly.

A week’s pay for most people does not cover big-ticket items in a household budget, such as a car payment, mortgage, and utility bills. Getting paid bi-weekly usually does.

For Van Wagenen, this can mean he can rob from Peter to pay Paul, or vice-versa between the two years.

If, for instance, the Mets have their eyes set on a free agent who is available in 2021, but not this year, they can go easy this year while saving the money for the following season.

More significantly though, it allows the Mets to consider (within a budget) engaging in long-term extension talks and eventual contracts with key players on the team. It’s probably too early for Pete Alonso, but it’s worth the try.

Certainly, J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman (a free agent after 2020), and Noah Syndergaard (if the Mets want to keep him) fit the mold of players you might want to lock up.

Long-term extensions have another benefit Van Wagenen can sell the Wilpons on – they create not only personnel, but financial stability as the team moves forward.

Flexibility Is The Key For The 2020 Mets

Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets Sparkplug (Photo: Newsday.com)
Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets Sparkplug (Photo: Newsday.com)

With so many players eligible for arbitration in 2020, flexibility is the key allowing Brodie Van Wagenen to make choices between players he categorizes as keepers and those he does not.

Take a player like Brandon Nimmo. Popularity aside is Nimmo a player the Mets see as building on? Or, is Nimmo a surplus piece the Mets will only keep if his salary is within a specific range?

A two-year budget allows Van Wagenen to pay Nimmo for 2020, but write him off on next year’s budget while he searches for an alternate center fielder.

The trick for Van Wagenen, though, is to get the Wilpons to trust him with the money they commit to over two years.

While you can see Brian Cashman easily working out something of this nature with Hal Steinbrenner, it’s also fair to say Van Wagenen doesn’t quite have the “juice” Cashman has built up over the years.

For The Mets, It’s A Question Of Changing The Wilpons – Not Removing Them

The Wilpons aren’t going anywhere. MLB makes no provisions for stingy owners.

The only option is to convince the Wilpons there is another way. The only person who has their ear is Brodie Van Wagenen.

A sales pitch like no other he has presented is Van Wagenen’s task. If he’s smart, he’ll also promise to sell the “change” in the Wilpons to the Mets fans and the media – see fans – they aren’t so inflexible, after all.

The Mets can’t continue to go down the same road, expecting things to change if they don’t change themselves. And it goes far beyond whether or not Mickey Callaway is the manager of the Mets next year. We’re talking culture change here.

Brodie Van Wagenen has the power to push for change. We’ll soon know if he has the will as well…

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.