The 2020 Mets are anything but settled for the upcoming season. Van Wagenen has a desk full of decisions to make, and like it or not, the clock keeps ticking…
Updated Below – 10/9/2019 3:36 PM EST
The Mets are fortunate to have a core of talented players under team control and ready to take the field on Opening Day, 2020. A lineup containing the explosive bats of Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, and J.D. Davis is enough to keep the Braves and Nationals awake at night pouring over scouting reports.
Nevertheless, Brodie Van Wagen, in deciding to relieve Mickey Callaway of his duties, has reshuffled the deck in terms of his offseason priorities. His number one task is to hire a new manager.
Mets New Manager – A Cumbersome Process
In today’s baseball world, the hiring process for a manager is extensive, almost to the point of having candidates subject to an FBI background before they even enter the door for an interview.
Ask the Arizona Diamondbacks about that. In 2004, they hired Wally Backman as their manager. Four days later, they found out he was embroiled in legal troubles, firing Backman on the spot and re-starting the process.
The list of candidates is endless. Several have been profiled on these pages, and the list seems to grow every day. The hiring process usually has a ring that resembles the way we elect a president.
We’re in the Primary Season now, with candidates lining up either by self-endorsement (Joe Girardi), highly recommended (Carlos Beltran), ballyhooed by fans (David Wright), and favorite sons like AJ Hinch, Van Wagenen’s longtime friend.
With the clock ticking, the interview process has yet to begin. With twenty or so names “in the running,” how many can Van Wagenen meet with for one day – while giving ample time (two to three hours?) to each?
After that, there’s still the second and third rounds to go, with some individuals dismissed, while others elect to discharge themselves from consideration. The latter was the case when Sandy Alderson did the honors, as several ended up saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
In sum, the process of hiring a manager is time-consuming and fraught with starts and re-starts.
The Mets Have Other Fronts To Defend
Meanwhile, the ship is steering itself adrift at sea with homeport a distant island. And Major League Baseball does not wait for stragglers.
Free agency begins the day following the World Series. Zack Wheeler (right) is hanging in the balance. It’s not a problem if the Mets have already decided not to extend Wheeler a Qualifying Offer, projected to be around $19 million this year. Or, if Wheeler has already decided to take his services elsewhere. But how likely is either case? Time – more time that needs to be devoted.
November 20, 2019, is the deadline for clubs to turn in their 40-man reserve lists with the names of players who will be protected in the Rule 5 draft. Players who were drafted out of college in the 2016 draft, or those drafted out of high school or signed as international free agents under the age of 19 in 2015, are eligible. Time – more time.
There’s a Holiday Season break that follows, but by January 10, 2020, teams and arbitration-eligible players must exchange salary figures. The Mets have nine players eligible for arbitration. For the details, look here. Again, this is an overwhelming task for Van Wagenen to absorb.
The arbitration process is filled with potholes and minefields. Feelings can get hurt and relationships destroyed during the process. Three years ago, The Yankees and Dellin Betances got caught up in a public battle over $500,000. The riff could very well reach fruition when Betances becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
What about trade possibilities? How many phone calls does it take to complete one trade? Sometimes dozens, especially when more than two teams are involved as in the trend we see in baseball today.
Lest we forget the free agents, the Mets are interested in pursuing. The wining and dining, exchange of emails and texts, and face to face meetings with agents and the player. Time – more time.
Will Van Wagenen Call In The Calvary
To say that Brodie Van Wagenen has a full plate on his table is an understatement. He has five or six plates, all to be juggled at the same time.
Help is available if Van Wagenen elects to delegate some of the responsibilities. Here’s a table showing his closest staff:
No doubt, you recognize some high-powered names. The question looms, however, how much power is Van Wagenen willing to cede? He gives the impression as a hands-on manager with a need and desire to be “in” on everything.
Lord help the Mets if that’s the case this offseason.
Let’s hope it isn’t the case, but let’s also recognize it’s been two weeks since the season ended for the Mets, and nothing is happening – on any front (that we know of).
It’s Brodie’s move(s), and the clock is ticking…
Author’s Update – Reader Comments
Comments are coming in fast and furious asking why I’m so concerned when MLB rules prohibit transactions until after the World Series has ended.
I understand that. My point, though, is there is much behind the scenes work to do. “Unofficial” – non-public work is fine. A team can’t make public announcements, that’s all.
Do I know that BVW is not being proactive now? Of course not.
All I’m saying is that as a Mets fan, he’d better be working sixteen-hour days, on the phone constantly, and ready to pounce immediately following the WS.
I appreciate the thoughts. Keep ’em coming. They’re what this is all about.