Negative stories about Brodie Van Wagenen came fast and furious when he became the Mets new GM. But since then, he’s been making all the right moves, with more to come.
With the Mets, sometimes it’s the little things that matter most. So, when Brodie Van Wagenen made a pit stop in Arizona on his way to the GM meetings in California to have dinner with Mets prospect, Peter Alonso, the gesture gave pause to feel something new in the team’s way of doing business.
Alonso himself was taken back a bit:
This, in the face of the Mets previous front office regime essentially ignoring the explosive bat of Alonso in favor of concentrating their efforts and hype on the floundering Dominic Smith, checks one box in favor of Van Wagenen’s resume with the Mets.
Ignoring the valid criticism of Alonso’s fielding at first base, Van Wagenen has all but handed the job to the rookie in Spring Training and beyond. The kid will improve his fielding while giving the Mets some much-needed run-scoring punch in their anemic lineup.
Similarly, according to a report by CBS Sports, Brodie Van Wagenen has also “penciled in” Jeff McNeil as the Mets starting second baseman based on his performance in the second half of the 2018 season.
One might have cause to wonder where this leaves the manager of the New York Mets, Mickey Callaway, but that’s a whole other story.
The Era Of Good Feelings being ushered in by Van Wagenen is soon to be felt in another way when he goes toe to toe with the Wilpons, lobbying for a contract extension for Jacob deGrom. As the first test for Van Wagenen to get the Wilpons to reach into their pockets, Brodie Van Wagenen will make the same arguments he would have as deGrom’s agent.
Signing deGrom is good for the team, it’s a catalyst for continued fan interest, and above all else, it shows the baseball world the Mets are following a new path with how they treat their star players, especially pitchers. Remarkably, there’s still a contingent of Mets fans who will never forgive the Mets for trading Tom Seaver or letting Nolan Ryan go.
Basically, deGrom’s extension should be a slam dunk for Van Wagenen, especially given the public relations ($) value of the team sporting this year’s Cy Young in the National League.
The next trick Van Wagenen will need to sell is getting the Mets to do another Bernie Madoff with their money. That is, invest now to improve the team in anticipation of recouping that money at a later time. This has to do with as much as $33 million the Mets are likely to be due when they claim insurance monies on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes.
Wright is a foregone conclusion, and it’s only a matter of the lawyers getting together on a settlement. Cespedes is forecasted to be out for at least the first half of the season, leaving the Mets eligible to claim their loss. But the trick will be if the Mets can do a Yankees-like Jacoby Ellsbury disappearing act (all within the rules), keeping Cespedes away from the team for the entire season, making the Mets eligible to collect up to 75% of Cespedes’s salary.
Convincing the Wilpons to think ahead with their money is a challenge Van Wagenen will need to accept and do battle on, using this money to sign a couple of free agents, plus trading off the useless surplus like Jay Bruce and the brittle Juan Lagares, while eating some of the money in their contracts to get a decent return.
As with any newly hired GM, the clock is ticking on the honeymoon Brodie Van Wagenen will have with the Mets. He’s corralled the confidence of two young players in Alonso and McNeil, and all accounts indicate DeGrom still holds a good deal of respect for him.
But as we know, Brodie Van Wagenen doesn’t answer to the Mets players or fans. He was smart to get off on the right foot with both as future collateral, but now the real test begins as he takes it upstairs. So far so good, so you never know…
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor
Reflections On Baseball