Ownership for the New York Mets will be changing. What does it mean for General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen?
If you thought this was going to be a boring offseason for the New York Mets, think again.
Mere hours after it was reported that Zack Wheeler was headed to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies on a lucrative 5-year $118 million deal, news broke that Gerrit Cole’s recent meeting with the New York Yankees went exceptionally well and could result in the most high-profile pitching free agent this offseason moving to the Bronx.
Then, in the midst of these major headlines, the Mets organization released a bombshell of their own. Ownership is going to change.
On the surface, it looks like Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and heck, even Festivus came early for Mets fans this year: A billionaire (who if such a deal is finalized, would purportedly be the richest owner in baseball) is in talks to buy a majority stake of the team, reportedly as high as 80% of the team, which would make him the principal owner of the Mets.
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Since taking over the team from Nelson Doubleday in 2002, Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff are negotiating a road map that would allow them to continue in their current roles as CEO and COO, respectively for the next five years as part of the sale.
But among the tidal wave of excitement, hysteria, relief, and questions fans may have about this seemingly random and quite abrupt turn of events – like a simple, “Why now?” – just as the 2019 Winter Meetings are scheduled to begin, the more intriguing question appears to be how a move of this magnitude affects the status of their current General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen and his close alignment with Jeff Wilpon, after a shaky freshman year at the helm.
Will he fit in with Cohen’s expected new vision for the team? Will he be allowed to substantially increase payroll this season (thereby going over the luxury tax) and during the last four seasons under the Wilpons control? Better yet, will Van Wagenen even last the next five-years before the Wilpons officially step down after the 2025 season? I would think the chances are most likely.
Van Wagenen has proven himself capable of drafting players, but his trading ability still remains inconclusive after that one deal last offseason that resulted in the decline of a veteran second baseman and the regression to one of the league’s best closers from the prior season. Moreover, it is still unclear if his Trade Deadline acquisition of RHP Marcus Stroman will pay off, following a lackluster second half for the 28-year old in Flushing.
Still, Van Wagenen excelled during the 2019 First-year player draft in addition to proving his fearlessness while complementing the Mets hot streak during the second half of last season by adding dynamic player, Joe Panik after his release from the San Francisco Giants, and making an attempt to strengthen the bullpen by adding RHP Brad Brach, who ended up posting a 3.68 ERA in 16 games with the Mets.
Should ownership change, it looks like everyone in the organization will participate in a five-year audition to prove why they are vital to the future of this franchise, including new manager Carlos Beltran and his new coaching staff.
Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see how this possible ownership switch will trickle down from potential front office moves to on the field changes?
But there is much more that needs to happen first before we can further assess what type of changes are coming to Flushing. Sterling Partners still has to reach an agreement with Steve Cohen’s investment firm, Point72 Asset Management, and then the Commissioner needs to hold a vote with all MLB owners, in which 75% of them must be in favor of Cohen becoming owner.
Then the five-year process begins until the Wilpons no longer have controlling interest in the franchise and Cohen has full autonomy, as the principal owner of the Mets, to operate like a true big market team.
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And Mets fans will be dancing in the streets, if they haven’t started already.