With the trade deadline looming, and the Mets already active in it with their acquisition of my personal Man-Crush Marcus Stroman last night, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the man behind the madness, Brodie Van Wagenen. Plus I find the inner workings of professional sports teams fascinating, and this gives me the perfect excuse to delve even further down that rabbit hole.
Van Wagenen was hired this past off-season after previous GM Sandy Alderson decided to take an extended leave of absence to spend more time with his remaining brain cells. Van Wagenen previously had been a player agent, having represented some of the Mets top talent (and Tim Tebow) like Jacob deGrom, Robinson Cano and the remaining ligaments of Yoenis Cespedes. While you might think that hiring a former agent to be the GM of a baseball team that has previously negotiated with said agent might be a conflict of interest, it’s not without precedent. Former A’s and Blue Jays ace Dave Stewart went from being a player, to an agent, and then eventually to GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The issue that a lot of people in baseball had with this move is that as the agent of some of these players, Van Wagenen was privy to the medical information of his clients which he could then in theory use against them in salary negotiations. Granted, the likelihood of that is slim as it would immediately result in a grievance being filed against the Mets by the player’s union but it’s not a concern without merit. This didn’t deter the Mets, however, as they signed Van Wagenen to a five-year contract last October.
Van Wagenen didn’t waste much time making moves, as he sent their top rated OF prospect Jared Kelenic and Jay Bruce to the Mariners for the 2018 saves leader Edwin Diaz and the corpse of Robinson Cano and it’s $100 million dollar price tag. Also in the deal was the Mets top pitching prospect Justin Dunn who also sits in the top 100 ranked ML players as of last week. He also signed free agent catcher Wilson Ramos and added infield utility man Jed Lowrie to one year deals.
The only one of those moves that has panned out thus far is Wilson Ramos, and then only just barely as he’s been worth 0.2 WAR thus far this season slashing .259/.335/.387 with 10 dingers and 45 RBI. The guy he replaced behind the dish was Travis D’Arnaud, who ended up with Tampa Bay and has produced 1.2 WAR for them with a .249/.316/.482 line. Whoops. Robinson Cano has predictably continued the downward spiral on the back half of his career. He’s been worth -0.2 WAR thus far and played below average D at 2B. He’s also logged a decent amount of time on the IL with various maladies. Edwin Diaz has been a shadow of his former self at the back end of the Mets bullpen. His ERA currently sits at an ugly 4.95, and he’s blown five saves thus far and has been worth 0.4 WAR.
Even if that brutal off-season wasn’t enough, Van Wagenen seems to be a might bit…unstable. Earlier in the month it was reported that during a post game meeting with staffers Van Wagenen lost his shit and ended up throwing a chair around the room. He’s also been known to manage games from the comfort of his home by calling Mets staffers to relay instructions to manager Mickey Callaway regarding the pulling of deGrom from the game. This new style of management certainly brings back memories of George Steinbrenner doing the kind of shit that made him such a great Seinfeld character.
All this brings us to the trade deadline, which in typical fashion Van Wagenen has jumped by trading top pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to Toronto to bring in Marcus Stroman. On the surface, the move doesn’t seem to make much sense. The Mets currently sit 11.5 games back in the division and six games in the wild card race. Stroman was largely regarded as the best pitcher available on the market other than Noah Syndergaard at the deadline, and was actively being pursued by the Braves and Yankees. Granted Stroman has another year of team control before hitting the market, but it seems the Mets need more than just him to compete next year as Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard himself are not long for the team.
Which might be why he traded for Stroman, as a potential replacement for Syndergaard if he’s dealt at the deadline. If that’s truly the case, it will be very interesting to see the return the Mets get for him. In addition to that, I would sincerely hope that Rick Hahn would be calling and asking about the price for Thor as he’s an immediate upgrade over anyone not named Lucas Giolito. The main question at this point would be asking price. Syndergaard has two more year of team control left, then hits the free agent market in a year pretty devoid of starting pitching. If the Mets were to ask for Michael Kopech, would Hahn be open to making that deal? I think I would, though it would be a tough pill to swallow. I’m hoping Hahn isn’t the one to break Van Wagenen’s streak of terrible deals by getting fleeced by him. Though I’m not expecting much out of this deadline for the Sox, Thor would be a nice surprise as long as the price is right.
Should be an interesting few days.