Posted on October 30, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After missing the playoffs in back-to-back years, the New York Mets are taking a different approach to things, one few baseball teams have tried. On Tuesday, the Mets introduced Brodie Van Wagenen as their new GM. Van Wagenen is different from most major league GMs in that he has no previous interest working inside the front office of a big league club. Rather, he is a former agent who understands baseball from a different perspective.
Van Wagenen has been the co-head of the baseball division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA) since 2006. He has represented some of the top stars in baseball, including current Mets players such as Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, and Todd Frazier. However, he has chosen to divest his interest in CAA and walk away from working as an agent in favor of becoming New York’s new GM.
“We want to get this franchise to where the fans want it to be,” said Mets owner and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon Tuesday. “What is Brodie going to bring? Some excitement, a different look at things than we’ve had from traditional GMs. He has the full support of ownership behind him. He’s going to bring us sustained winning. We’re energized. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for years to come.”
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Naturally, there is going to be skepticism about the Mets hiring Van Wagenen. The other finalists for the GM vacancy included experienced expective Doug Melvin and Chaim Bloom, a big part of the brain trust with the Tampa Bay Rays. However, Van Wagenen acknowledged that he was “not the path of least resistance” in being chosen. He also has high hopes for an organization that hasn’t won a World Series since 1986.
“Every person in this organization will be fearless and relentless in the pursuit of excellence,” Van Wagenen said. “I’m confident that Mets fans will understand and believe that this will be a great partnership going forward and that we can bring a championship not only now, but in years to come. … We will deliver to this city and this fan base a team we can be proud of.”
Right off the bat, Van Wagenen will have a few big decisions to make. The first one will involve manager Mickey Callaway, who was 77-85 in his first season as Mets manager. As GM, Van Wagenen has the power to fire Callaway and bring in his own manager. However, Van Wagenen said on Tuesday that he supports Callaway, which would imply that a managerial change this offseason is unlikely.
Next, Van Wagenen will have to decide how he will proceed with the team’s pitching staff, most notably deGrom, a former client. There was speculation over the summer that deGrom could be traded to help the Mets rebuild. Van Wagenen, in the role of deGrom’s agent, called on the team to either trade him or sign him to an extension. As the new GM, Van Wagenen will be able to decide if the Mets do one or the other with this year’s favorite to win the Cy Young.
“I believe Jacob deGrom is an incredible talent and I hope to keep him for a long time,” Van Wagenen said Tuesday when asked about deGrom’s future with the club.
Ultimately, it will take time until it’s clear whether or not hiring someone with Van Wagenen’s unique background was a good move for the Mets. In the meantime, he has a lot on his plate right away. Van Wagenen must choose a direction for the club and make decisions based on that direction. Van Wagenen could try to turn the Mets into a playoff contender right away. He could also look to rebuild the Mets from scratch. One way or another, the Mets and their new GM are about to embark on a critical offseason for the future of the franchise.