When Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen charged unto the scene as a rookie last year, few took him seriously. As a maturing adult in baseball, though, take notice…
When the Mets appointed a player’s agent to be their new General Manager last year, eyebrows were rightfully raised. How can a person whose livelihood depends on reaping the last dollar for the players he represents suddenly make the u-turn to adequately describe the other side of the table?
It was a fair question, except that it never entered the field of play during Van Wagenen’s first year as GM of the Mets. Contract talks with Jacob deGrom, Van Wagenen’s former client, went smoothly, and soon after that, the issue was all but forgotten.
What did emerge, however, was a seeming penchant on the part of Van Wagenen to immediately put his stamp on the team and his peers within major league baseball.
Rather than sit back, wait, and evaluate, it took Van Wan Wagenen only a New York minute to execute what would arguably become the “blockbuster” deal of the 2018 offseason. Mets fans know the details…
The Seattle Mariners traded Robinson Cano with Edwin Diaz and cash to the New York Mets for Jarred Kelenic (minors), Gerson Bautista, Jay Bruce, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Swarzak.
Later, other additions included Jeurys Familia and Jed Lowrie, both of whom proved to be more of a detriment than an asset to the team.
Do you want to light up the back pages of New York newspapers? That’s how you do it.
Mets can only hope it’s a case of living and learning
We’re not here to mull over the impact on the Mets of that trade. It is what it is, and the team moves on.
But what is exciting and subject to curiosity is that Brodie Van Wagenen emerged from this year’s GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, with nothing in hand. No headlines, no new acquisitions, no promises of deals in the making.
How can this be a victory or a reason for plaudits when a month after the World Series, the Mets have subtractions (Zack Wheeler and Juan Lagares) but no one on board to replace them?
“Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make” is a famous sports adage that originated in baseball but has been used by other sports as well.
We can’t get inside the head of Brodie Van Wagenen, but based on his track record to date, it is reasonable to think he has spent some time re-evaluating his image among his peers as a gunslinger.
Van Wagenen another year older…
Caution is the better part of valor – another cliche – is another way to restate the same approach. For instance, if Van Wagenen wakes up tomorrow with the sole intent to trade highly valued Noah Syndergaard, the deal can be done in one or two phone calls.
Instead, Van Wagenen can do himself and the Mets better if he steps back to recall how the deal he made with the Astros for J.D. Davis evolved, with the intent of doing it again.
But today, the difference is not that Van Wagenen can make the deal. Instead, time and the growth he has sustained in his job “pinches” him a bit – prodding him to “look before he leaps” (I’ll get to all the cliches…).
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But the overriding characteristic of Van Wagenen’s personality is that he is driven to be a success. He built a widely acclaimed business as a player’s rep.
He’s rich, handsome, and a bachelor living in New York City. And his oversized ego tells him he can’t afford to screw this up.
One more Cano deal, and he’s outta here.
Mets: Just fill in the blanks
Working for Van Wagenen is that the Mets have the corner pieces of the puzzle in place. With Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto on board, there’s no need for a blockbuster trade or free-agent acquisition to move the team beyond where they finished in 2019.
$ure, is there a Mets fan out there who wouldn’t like to see Mookie Betts patrolling center field for the team over the next five years or so? But what if Starling Marte, a smaller and less expensive, but still more than an adequate piece, can get the job done?
Similarly, is Rick Porcello (example only), without the $uperman credential$ of Gerrit Cole, still more than capable of contributing as a number three or four on the Mets staff?
Sometimes, less is more (see, there’s another one). That’s the case with the 2020 Mets. Hopefully, Brodie Van Wagenen buys into the idea as well…