NY Mets: Three best moves from the Brodie Van Wagenen era
By Mason Smoller
Three moves by former New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to be thankful for in 2021.
From the moment Steve Cohen was set to purchase the New York Mets from the Wilpon family, it became clear Brodie Van Wagenen’s days as the Mets general manager were numbered. Then, one of the first things Cohen did was clean house in the front office. He ushers a new era, one that looks to clean up what Van Wagenen left behind.
Joining the franchise in 2019, Van Wagenen was a rather unusual hire for the team. A star agent turned general manager, he made for an out of the box hire to replace Sandy Alderson, who is now back as the team president. And like his hire, Van Wagenen’s tenure was full of risky and questionable moves.
He had an unorthodox approach to filling out team needs, often including dealing top prospects for aging veterans. Most notably being the Robinson Cano and Marcus Stroman trades. Van Wagenen often overpaid in trades, as well as free agents. The latter being most disappointing given they rarely were in discussion for top free agents.
Nevertheless, as any tenure does, there were some good moves that came out of it. The team just missed the playoffs in 2019 and have a very talented young offensive core going forward. That being said, let’s take a look at the best moves made during the Van Wagenen era.
Honorable Mention: Signing relievers Justin Wilson and Brad Bach
Yes, Van Wagenen whiffed on numerous free agent signings over the past two years. However, he did make a few under-the-radar moves that paid dividends. The biggest two wound up being relief pitchers Justin Wilson and Brad Brach.
Signed to a two-year, $10-million deal in 2019, Wilson is currently on the market. Whether or not he is brought back, he was arguably the team’s most reliable reliever the past two seasons. The southpaw posted his best numbers since his second season in 2019, with a 2.54era over 45 games. He followed up that performance with a 3.66era in 23 in the bizarre 2020 season. For a last-second move, the Wilson signing was a big one.
Unlike Wilson, Brach was brought in mid-season, after being designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs. The former all-star reliever bounced around the league since 2018 before finding a home in the Mets bullpen. In 2019 he posted a 3.68era over 16 games and pitched another 12.1 in 2020. While neither Wilson nor Brach offered elite arms, the two were reliable arms out of a lackluster Mets bullpen.
Honorable Mention: Not Trading for J.T. Realmuto
Prior to the Philadelphia Phillies acquiring the two-time All-Star in 2019, the Mets were the heavy favorites to trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto. The now free agent catcher commanded a hefty return, one that rumored to include some combination of either Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto and prospects.
While Realmuto would have been a significant upgrade over Wilson Ramos, such a trade would have put the Mets in a tricky spot. Conforto is coming off of a career year and both he and Nimmo will be starters in 2021. Not to mention two prospects that came up in negotiations were star first baseman Pete Alonso and potential starting infielder Andres Gimenez.
At the end of the day, Van Wagenen not trading for Realmuto was the right move.