New York Mets’ Brodie Van Wagenen is not focused on his future role amidst ownership change

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen has an agreement in place to buy the New York Mets‘ franchise from the Wilpons. And while the deal is pending the approval of the other 29 ownership groups in MLB, there shouldn’t be too many roadblocks for Cohen to take over in the near future.

A new era is set to begin for the New York Mets, and it is unclear if general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is part of that future. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the two men have had only one “real talk” but the GM knows more will be in the horizon.

“There are still a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross before it will become official,” Van Wagenen said. “At this point my collaboration is still among the senior leaders in my department and then communication with Jeff and Fred [Wilpon], and then from there we’ll continue to go forward. But at this point, right now, our transactions are focused on today, tonight and tomorrow to try to get us through this regular season.”

Speaking of, navigating the regular season has been rough for Van Wagenen and the Mets, who currently hold a 23-28 record and will have to win most of their nine remaining games to have an outside shot at making the playoffs. From a roster standpoint, the pitching depth was mostly lost with so many injuries, opt outs and ineffectiveness, and that has really affected the club’s chances.

The Mets’ current task is winning

Those remarks represented the first time that Van Wagenen has spoken publicly since Cohen’s agreement was announced. However, he declined to make specific comments about his winter plans, even though he is under contract through the 2022 season.

“In terms of my own job security, I’ve said it many times: I don’t think about that,” Van Wagenen said. “I don’t give it any thought, because my task is to win today.”

Before thinking about the future, it is clear that the New York Mets need to focus on the present, which brings too many on-field challenges to even entertain other things or scenarios.

New York Mets: Thursday was a weird day as the Wilpons bash Van Wagenen for hot mic mishap

Thursday was a weird day for the New York Mets. Yes, the on-field demonstration by the Mets and Marlins players was powerful: they stood up for 42 seconds and then departed the field just before their scheduled game, only to leave a Black Lives Matter shirt on the diamond. But a few things happened that will sure create some tension in the organization.

It all started with a misunderstanding early in the day. General manager Brodie van Wagenen was the victim of a hot mic moment, as he was captured on video (livestreamed to Mets.com) criticizing Commissioner Rob Manfred’s leadership after he thought the idea that was being discussed, which was leave the field at 7:10 pm to return to play an hour later, would go against the players’ desire not to play.

“That leadership level, he doesn’t get it,” Van Wagenen said on the leaked video while talking with two people. “He just doesn’t get it.”

“Baseball’s trying to come up with a solution, saying, ‘Oh, you know what would be super powerful — the three of us here, [this information] can’t leave this room — you know it’d be really great if you just have them all take the field and then they leave the field and then they come back and play at 8:10,” Van Wagenen said on the video. “And I was like, ‘What?’ ”

But a few hours after the incident, he said he misunderstood the whole deal and that the idea of returning to play one hour after the initially scheduled time belonged to New York Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon, who didn’t know at that moment that the players agreed not to play at all on Thursday night.

The Mets’ GM apologized to Manfred for involving him, erroneously, in the situation.

“My frustration with the Commissioner was wrong and unfounded. I apologize to the Commissioner for my disrespectful comments and poor judgement in inaccurately describing the contents of his private conversation with Jeff Wilpon,” Van Wagenen said. “… I didn’t have the tone or the context to it. … It wasn’t Rob and his leadership that was requiring or suggesting or mandating anything by the stretch of the imagination. … I recognize that it was a disrespectful move to his office and to him.”

The Mets’ owners heavily criticize their GM

CEO Fred Wilpon bashed Van Wagenen for his comments. “I am very stressed and disappointed to learn tonight that our General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, made disrespectful and inaccurate comments about our Commissioner, a long-time close friend of mine. I hold Rob in the highest regard and in no way are Brod[ie]’s remarks reflective of my views or the organization’s,” he said in a statement. “Rob continues to be a great leader of Major League Baseball. I apologize for any harm this incident has caused Rob.”

Separately, Jeff Wilpon also released a statement, again aimed at the Mets’ GM. “To clear up any misunderstandings, it was my suggestion to potentially look into playing the game later because of scheduling issues,” he said. “Brod[ie]’s misunderstanding of a private conversation was and is inexcusable.”

It raised some eyebrows that Jeff Wilpon spelled Van Wagenen’s first name as “Brody.”

In the end, Van Wagenen owned up to his mistake. According to the New York Post, he said:

“I hold myself personally responsible for this. Hot mic or not hot mic, I made comments that damaged the reputation of the commissioner, that hurt the New York Mets organization. But my apology goes beyond just to the people I may have damaged, but more that my name and my face and this zoom conference is part of the conversation today,” Van Wagenen said. “This conversation is about the players making a statement. This conversation is about recognizing the pain and the anguish that black people are experiencing every day in this country. the fact that I’ve put myself and this organization in the conversation in a way that takes away from the real point, I’m disappointed in myself … and I accept responsibility for that.”

Overall, a day to forget for the Mets.

Reports suggest that the New York Mets could be aggressive players at the deadline

Despite the New York Mets being shut out on Tuesday’s doubleheader, the team has an amazing collection of offensive players. Dominic Smith has emerged as a slugger with patience and an amazing ability to hit extrabases, Wilson Ramos could get going any moment (especially now that he will have more playing time following Tomas Nido’s placement on the IL) and so could Pete Alonso. Robinson Cano is having a great season, not to mention Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. Jeff McNeil remains a well-rounded offensive weapon.

Yet, the woes on the starting pitching continue. Steven Matz was demoted to the bullpen last week but injuries and the tight calendar have forced Mets manager Luis Rojas to reconsider that plan. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are now part of the rotation because Marcus Stroman opted out, David Peterson and Michael Wacha got injured and Noah Syndergaard isn’t an option to pitch anytime soon.

To capitalize on their wide-open contention window, the New York Mets need more stable starters alongside Jacob deGrom. Wacha and Peterson are nearing a return, but acquiring one prior to the trade deadline isn’t out of the question.

The Mets want to be cautious with their resources

Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said the team would be careful before the deadline, but didn’t rule out being aggresive.

“I think the aggressive approach that we’ve taken in the past is not something that we will eliminate from a possibility. But we recognize we’ve got a 30-game season effectively, and less than that once the trade deadline comes and goes,” Van Wagenen explained a couple of days ago to the media. “And so we have to be responsible for the future of the organization while still being opportunistic for ways to improve the club.”

In a report on Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic cited one MLB executive who expects the Mets to be a “surprising player” at the deadline. Other officials anticipate Van Wagenen being “aggressive as he tries to save his job with the sale of the team nearing completion.”

Rosenthal’s piece says that the Mets have more financial flexibility now that Marcus Stroman and Yoenis Cespedes decided to opt out.

Could the Mets be players at the deadline? Will they address starting pitching? How about the bullpen? Only time will tell, but we will know soon.

New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen Needs to be Aggressive Next Offseason

The New York Mets are going to have to try to re-sign a lot of their impact players like Marcus Stroman and Justin Wilson while determining whether to keep a lot of veterans on their squad either through club options, new deals, or letting them go. The Mets roster is relatively talented, but they don’t have much in the farm system to be ready to shed off talent for more space in the roster.

The Mets come off as a team that needs to make moves now, and I think keeping Brodie’s aggressive nature needs to continue rather than be curbed because if you think about it, before Brodie was the GM the Mets were well below .500 for two years straight, and while Diaz hasn’t panned out yet, his 2.63 SIERA (Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average) shows there is more than hope for him and that Van Wagenen probably will look better for this move this year.

Address the Starting Pitching

Yes, you have Jacob deGrom and next year Noah Syndergaard, but Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha? All could depart this offseason, and so you need to start designing and adding to the rotation or else you’re going to lose a key element to your success; your starting pitching

I think the Mets should consider whether they will bring back Stroman or not (remembering Syndergaard will be a free agent in 2021) and if they will add even more pitching to supplement the return of Stroman. You have to consider the Yankees’ lefty James Paxton as an option but I think he and Stroman would be too expensive as the Mets have other issues to address, so a guy like Jake Odorizzi could be an option as well as a 3rd or 4th starter.

If you want cheaper options than even that you have solid #4 or #5 pitchers like Anthony DeSclafani who is a career 4.03 SIERA pitcher and had a 3.95 DRA in 2019, DRA (Deserved Run Average) which factors the park, quality of opponent, pitch framing, and even temperature. This stat is a stat that boils down a pitcher’s pure skill and for a guy who will probably sign for 2 years $15 million? A high 3 ERA guy is a pretty good bargain to pair with Stroman to make a rotation that is still well above average, and it’d add around $27.5 million to your payroll total because Stroman probably signs for around $20 million a year, but what about the lineup?

Bring in an Outfield Power Bat

Yes, I know the New York Mets traded for the defensive stud Jake Marisnick but the issue is he’s awful offensively so he’s a liability at the plate, but if you put Nimmo in CF then yes you have a liability in the outfield defensively but you still have his offense and total value. This doesn’t mean they can’t get better in the corner outfield spot not occupied by Conforto? I think they can.

With Cespedes’ absurd $29 million off of the books after this year, we were able to spend $27.5 million on starting pitching, meaning right now we have an around $103,500,000 dollar payroll before arbitration currently. I think the New York Mets have around $40 million max. to spend on impact position players, so we have to sign realistic players and not just try to blow all of our cash on Mookie Betts. Despite the limitations, how about Marcell Ozuna?

Marcell Ozuna is an outfielder for the rival Braves but he has a ton of potential and his expected stats show that he can be a lot better than the 107 and 109 wRC+ numbers we’ve seen in his stint with St. Louis. In 2019 despite his .336 wOBA, Ozuna had a .389 xwOBA in 2019 with xSLG of .548 and an Exit Velocity (of the top 5% of his hard-hit balls) were at 111.4 MPH, one of the best marks in the league. He also is a good defensive corner outfielder at 8.6 UZR/150 in LF in his career and 24.1 UZR/150 in RF but in a smaller sample size.

You’d be getting what I think is a 4 fWAR 130 wRC+ caliber player and you could get him for $22 million a year at 30 for 6 seasons. He’d make that lineup a lot scarier and would be a great fit for the NEw York Mets.

Polishing Touches

I’ve discussed before letting Wilson Ramos walk and bringing in Jason Castro who put up a .364 xWOBA and is a much better framing catcher, who would cost around $7 million for the Mets over two seasons and allows the Mets to continue to develop catching prospect Fransico Alvarez for the next two seasons.

The Mets need to make sure they retain the likes of Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson which would cost around $25 million to do and factoring me guessing a $35 million total in arbitration and $10 million for the rest of the roster, the Mets would have a ~$195.5 million payrolls, and while yes that is pretty high, it’s still about $ 14.5 million below the luxury tax threshold for 2021 which would be set at $210 million. The next offseason they’d need to bring back Syndergaard and Conforto BUT they’d be off of Familia’s 17.6 million dollar deal and off of $17.6 million in Luxury Tax salary that they’ve bee owing to David Wright so that should help create more cap space.

Evaluating the Mets After These Moves

Assuming we are back to a 26 man roster in 2021, this is what the team would look like:

  1. Brandon Nimmo CF
  2.  Michael Conforto RF
  3. Jeff McNeil 3B
  4. Pete Alonso 1B
  5. Marcell Ozuna RF
  6. JD Davis DH
  7. Robinson Cano 2B
  8. Jason Castro C
  9. Amed Rosario SS

For the bench I decided on these 4 being the best candidates:

Dominic Smith 1B/LF/RF
Tomas Nido C
Luis Gillmore IF
Melky Cabrera OF

Now for the Mets’ rotation, new and improved:

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. Anthony DeSclafani
  5. Steven Matz

And then the bullpen:

Paul Sewald
Robert Gsellman
Justin Wilson
David Peterson
Jeurys Familia
Seth Lugo
Dellin Betances
Edwin Diaz

I think this team would be an easy division favorite, I mean did you see how deep that lineup was? The rotation is good and that bullpen is great, and if the Mets follow this blueprint, they’ll be hosting a World Series trophy over their head in this decade.

New York Mets: The Importance of Signing Every Draft Pick

The New York Mets executed their draft-day plan to perfection when they finally signed J.T. Ginn to a deal. With every draft pick signed, they are moving in the right direction to revitalized a weakened farm system over the last couple of seasons.

After dealing Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Anthony Kay in the same season, they had plenty of rebuilding to do. The Mets effectively replaced most of those parts during the 2020 MLB Draft.

Prosperous Future

Brodie Van Wagenen aimed to select versatile players with high potential. Every player the Mets selected fit into the category, and Pete Crow-Armstrong was the perfect player to draft with their first pick. Not only does he have five-tool potential, but he has a strong personality as well.

Ginn and Isaiah Greene fit into the high potential category, which is why they fell into the second round. Anthony Walters and Matthew Dyer are versatile players who will be able to play whatever position the Mets feel is best for them. Eric Orze seems to be a steal for what he signed for due to his battle through cancer and the ability to start or relieve.

Van Wagenen and the Mets scouting department did a fantastic job drafting a developed a great gameplan. It allowed them to cut money from their late draft picks and give the money to their top two selections. This has allowed the Mets to have the most success in the 2020 draft. Now we wait to see how each player develops in the future.

New York Mets: Brodie Van Wagenen confident in Yoenis Cespedes’ ability to contribute

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The New York Mets didn’t know what to expect from Yoenis Cespedes back in February, when the original spring training started. He was coming off multiple heel and ankle surgeries and while he was doing some baseball activities, he wasn’t particularly close to playing in a game back then.

Now, fast forward several months, we are about to enter July and the season will start either on July 23 or the very next day. A little over four months have passed since pitchers and catchers first reported to the Mets, and Cespedes is now in line to reclaim his spot on the team lineup.

In what capacity? Everything is pointing towards Cespedes being the primary designated hitter. The DH rule will be implemented in both leagues this year, and that way, the New York Mets can have Cespedes’ potent bat and save his legs from some wear and tear.

The Mets hope his bat, at least, can excel

Of course, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen knows that Cespedes hasn’t played in nearly two years, so he will be cautious about what to expect.

“We’ll have to evaluate how the next few days go, but we’re optimistic,” Van Wagenen said in his first extensive public comments since March, according to MLB.com. “His bat can be a real impact, and can be a little bit of a separator for us as we compare ourselves to the rest of the teams in the league.”

Cespedes has hit an impressive 282/.346/.543 since landing on the Mets back in 2015. His bat can be a difference-maker in a tough NL East.

In March, he was taking batting practice and participating in defensive drills. He wasn’t running at full speed, and while Van Wagenen didn’t exactly provide a full health report on him nowadays, he projected optimism.

“Ces is an incredible athlete,” Van Wagenen said. “When he’s 100 percent healthy, he’s got a dynamic skillset with all five tools. We’ll want to make sure we put him in a position to be able to utilize those tools that he has.”

The New York Mets did their homework prior to next week’s draft

The 2019 season marked Brodie Van Wagenen’s first summer as the New York Mets manager, and he made quite the impression in the MLB Draft.

The Mets used bonus pool money to lure away starting pitcher Matthew Allan, a first round talent according to most scouts and talent evaluators, in the third round. This after selecting two very good prospects in the first two rounds: Brett Baty and Josh Wolf. All of a sudden, the New York Mets’ system had three premium young players in a matter of several hours.

This time around, things will be different, although they have a common denominator: creativity. In 2019, it came by using the bonus pool money that could have been used in the latter picks to sign Allan, and this time, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the team needed to approach scouting in a different way.

“Change forces ingenuity,” Van Wagenen said in a text message. “Since we don’t have the benefit of getting fresh talent evaluations this spring, we have to develop new models to properly weigh the track record of past performance with the incredibly small sample sizes produced in 2020.”

The draft was shortened from 40 rounds to just five in the 2020 season, because of COVID-19. The bulk of the scouting conducted by the Mets and virtually every other team wasn’t conducted at stadiums and baseball fields. Countless of video hours served as the primary supporting material.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo wrote that given the situation, Van Wagenen became more personally involved alongside draft leaders Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta.

The Mets want to make every pick count

The fact that there are so precious few picks means that the Mets need to make every one of them count. There is less margin for error.

The Mets’ high minors were depleted by recent trades, most notably the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz and Marcus Stroman deals. Next week, the team will be able to add some premium talent, and they will have the 19th pick in the first round.

They will also have an extra selection, the 69th overall, as compensation for Zack Wheeler signing a contract in Philadelphia.

Day 1 of the 2020 Draft airs on Wednesday, June 10, on MLB Network and ESPN at 7 p.m. ET, with the first 37 picks. Day 2 begins at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 11, on MLB Network and ESPN2.

“With a five-round Draft, our compensation pick is even more valuable. We look forward to our six selections and believe that this Draft has talent that can impact our organization in a very positive way,” Van Wagenen said.

Scouts have tabbed Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox as a potential target for the Mets, as well as South Carolina’s Carmen Mlodzinski, Miami’s Slade Cecconi, Auburn’s Tanner Burns and Nick Bitsko of Central Bucks High School East.

New York Mets: The Variables of the Pending Season

After MLB owners approved the plan to continue the baseball season, the war between the league and the players union is ready for its first battle. Out of all teams, the New York Mets find themselves in a unique situation compared to the rest of the league.

Outside of health concerns, the battle of salary negotiation is going to be the biggest fight in the process. Union chief Tony Clark and legendary agent Scott Boras both agree that being paid a pro-rata salary would be the agreement whenever games resume. The sacrifice stands at 30-40% of wages, which the owners claimed as feasible, according to the owners.

According to Boras, his clients are not willing to budge from the agreement. If salaries receive a blindsided cut, it will extend the baseball drought longer. Should the union have a legitimate legal case, the damage could wipe out the rest of the season. But Clark is just as poor as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. This situation serves as a prologue to how next year’s discussions on a new collective bargain agreement will play out.

The Mets Effect

The only Boras represented Met is Michael Conforto, and luckily 30-40% of his $8 million salary is $2.4 million through $3.2 million. That number is no worry for the organization, especially with the rest of their high priced talent.

The conflict comes from Wilpon ownership and General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. First, the Wilpon’s have continuously lost money from the Mets franchise over the last few years. The revenue from SNY, which the Wilpons also own, covers the losses from the organization.

Due to the revenue from SNY, the Wilpons call it untouchable in any team sale discussions. Since revenue should grow from SNY, since fans will not attend games, they might squeak by and suffer minimal damage to their finances due to the lack of fan revenue. But you can never be sure with the Wilpons.

Agent to GM

Van Wagenen plays a role more connected to the players. Not too long ago, he was the co-head for CAA Sports Baseball Division, which happens to represent the most players (6) on the current 40-man roster. Should the Mets look to cut more money from the players, Van Wagenen would have to side with ownership since they write his paychecks.

Four of those players make less than three million, including Brandon Nimmo and Robert Gsellman. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are the two high priced/talented members of CAA. Van Wagenen also negotiated the current contracts Yoenis Cespedes, and Robinson Cano collect. Cespedes already lost money in the offseason due to an injury on his ranch.

Van Wagenen does not make any final decisions, but he knows both sides of the fence. His voice will be heavily relied upon to fix and issues between players and ownership without it creating a media storm. Not to mention, he has to figure out the best pieces for a potential 82-game season at the same time.

Van Wagenen is a master agent and earned the GM job because he knows how to handle strenuous situations. He will be able to take any negative that comes out of the meetings and make it a positive. Few GMs in baseball have that ability.

New York Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen thanks healthcare officials battling against COVID-19

The MLB season was supposed to be underway by now. However, the current coronavirus pandemic has changed everybody’s plans, and professional sports leagues of nearly all countries are currently on an indefinite break as each country tries to prevent the disease from spreading even more. That’s why the New York Mets aren’t playing right now. Them, along with the other 29 teams, are currently waiting and seeing how things unfold in the next few weeks.

MLB has reportedly discussed the possibility of playing a shortened season with some games without fans. However, the players’ association wants play to resume when there are no travel restrictions and when taking the field doesn’t represent a risk to anybody involved in the game. The earliest that the season can resume is mid-May, but that is unrealistic. July is looking like a possibility.

New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, meanwhile, recently posted a message through the team’s Twitter page, supporting healthcare workers who are on the front lines battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The Mets’ GM statement:

“As we all stay home and follow the guidelines of our health officials, I just wanted to give a big thank you to the doctors, the nurses, and all of our healthcare workers for keeping us safe, for going to work, and fighting this pandemic on the front lines every day,” Van Wagenen said.

“But it’s those of you that are getting people healthy, getting people back home to their families, and putting yourselves at risk — sacrificing for the better good of our entire community. Thank you to all of you and let’s get through this together. Thanks,” he closed.

Some Mets’ players are training in their own houses, such as Marcus Stroman and his unique bullpen setting. Manager Luis Rojas said last week that he is frequently in touch with his players.

“Obviously, with what’s going on with the virus, it’s something we’ve never seen before, so we’re swimming in unfamiliar waters as far as being able to anticipate what’s going to happen in the future,” Mets manager Luis Rojas told MLB.com last week. “But as far as adjusting and adapting, like we’re all doing in our lives, I think [the baseball mentality] has helped us as a team.”

What are the Final Moves the New York Mets Can Make?

The New York Mets and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen kept themselves busy throughout the offseason. They brought in two different managers, signed a few pitchers, and avoided arbitration with all nine of their eligible players. Spring Training is just about a week away, and the roster seems complete. These small additions can make enough of an impact to get the Mets over the hump.

Russell Martin is no longer the All-Star quality catcher he once was but is still a very serviceable backup. He is heading into his age-37 season, and while his best hitting days are far behind him, he is an excellent defensive catcher. If the Mets can bring in Martin on a minor league deal for Spring Training, it would be a low risk, high reward move. The catching core behind Wilson Ramos is Tomas Nido, Rene Rivera, and unproven prospects. If Ramos were to miss an extended period, Martin would be a good fit for the Mets.

Pat Neshek

Injuries have limited the veteran Pat Neshek during the last two seasons, and at 39-years old, there is no guarantee his body holds up again. Much like Martin, he would be a low-risk move who has a 2.82 career ERA. With the flame throwers the Mets have in the bullpen already, Neshek would round out the bullpen with a strong arm if he stays healthy.

Danny Salazar is a huge wild card the Mets can afford to take a risk on. Another minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training would allow the Mets to find out what they have in Salazar. Before injuries derailed his career, he was an All-Star in 2016. Salazar would be good insurance to have as a starter, but he looks more like a reliever at this point in his career. He can focus more on getting through one inning instead of 100 pitches. Salazar’s strikeout numbers already slotted well for a reliever, and he could add an extra strikeout artist to the bullpen.