Grading Brodie Van Wagenen's job as General Manager (thus far)

            When Sandy Alderson announced in 2018 that he would be stepping down as Mets’ General Manager due to health concerns, there was a big question being asked by the fans: who would be taking the throne and be given the improbable task of fixing the New York Mets? The search was narrowed down to 3 final candidates, Doug Melvin, Chaim Bloom and Brodie Van Wagenen. Brodie would go on to win the position, but no one knew for sure what they’d be getting with him. With no prior front office knowledge, Brodie was best known as being an agent for some of baseball’s biggest names. The list of names represented by Brodie included; Jacob deGrom, Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes and Robinson Cano (3 of whom were Mets when he was hired.) Mets fans were obviously skeptical and concerned about what Brodie would do in this new role. Pleasing Mets fans is not an easy task at all, especially when expectations are so high. Sandy Alderson felt that flack after not being able to sign big free agents when needed. This obviously wasn’t his fault, you can’t be expected to build a winning ball club with no money and the Wilpons did not want to dish out the money needed to build a ball club. Things were expected to stay mostly the same with Brodie in charge, unless the Wilpons suddenly decided it was time to dish out some money and it seems like they were more willing now than ever before. With quite a few moves being made with Brodie running the ship, I’m going to take a look at what’s been done so far and give his entire performance a letter grade.

            Before getting to the big signings, I first want to take a look at what he’s done with some minor league signings. The first was the signing of Left-Handed reliever Ryan O’Rourke who was previously part of the Orioles’ organization. He was signed to a minor league contract with a spring training invitation. O’Rourke doesn’t have many numbers to really make a fair judgment on the signing but adding arms to the farm system who might play a role in the Major League bullpen is never a bad thing. The next move was the signing of left fielder Dario Pizzano to a minor league contract. Pizzano had previously been part of the Seattle organization. With 681 games in the minors, he sports a .283 Batting Average, 53 home runs and 361 RBIs. It’s not a huge signing but again, adding depth to the minor league team for a potential call up is never a bad thing and who knows, maybe he’ll impress in Spring Training. It was then time to sign Dilson Herrera to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Herrera was part of the Mets up until 2016 where he was traded to the Reds for Jay Bruce. Herrera was at one point one of the Mets’ top prospects, but he never really panned out the way they may have hoped. He played in the MLB in 2014, 2015 and 2018 and sports a .203 Batting Average through 102 games. At only 24 years old though, there is still room for Herrera to grow and make a case for himself as a real Major Leaguer in the future. Looking to build the depth in their outfield, the Mets signed veteran outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league deal with a spring training invitation. Davis has been in the MLB since 2006 and has played for a lot of different teams. He might be best remembered for the game tying homerun in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. His swing has some pop in it, and he’s had decent enough seasons to justify the signing. If anything, he could be a good platoon guy until Cespedes is back and healthy. Adding more depth to the outfield, they did the same thing with Gregor Blanco who has spent most of his time in the MLB as part of the Giant’s organization. Like Davis, Blanco is up there in terms of his age, but his numbers aren’t awful, and he could be another guy called upon to pinch hit or take over for a guy who needs a day off. They inked a handful of more relief pitchers with invitations to Spring Training which is again a good way to build up their farm system and potentially add more arms to their bullpen. One of their bigger signings in that sense was Luis Avilan. Avilan has a lifetime 3.09 ERA and a 19-10 record over his 399 games played in. Avilan will likely impress enough in Spring Training to justify making the Opening Day bullpen which should make Mets’ fans happy, it’s a good reliable lefty to have in the bullpen, especially with Jerry Blevins gone. There were some other minor leagues acquired through trades, but they’re names that don’t have many stats attached to them, so it’ll be a while to see if they pan out or not. But at the end of the day, Brodie did a good job of adding depth to the Mets minor league system and hopefully some of the guys who don’t make it to the MLB this season can turn into serious prospects and potential trade chips down the line, if needed.

            The first big move done by Brodie was the trade with the Seattle Mariners to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The trade saw Gerson Bautista, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Anthony Swarzak and Jay Bruce go to Seattle in return for the 8x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger and 2x Gold Glover winner, Robinson Cano come back to New York (this time in the right colors) and the 2018 All-Star, AL Reliever of the Year and AL Saves leader, Edwin Diaz. The Mariners also sent some cash along to help offset the money remaining on Cano’s contract. The trade was met with mixed reviews from the fans. But it didn’t have to do with Diaz. Diaz was the bright spot of the entire deal. He is the youngest pitcher to have 50 saves in a single season and is one of the most feared relief pitchers in baseball at the moment. At only 24 years old, the sky is really the limit for him and his 100-mph fastball. The problem was with Robinson Cano. Cano is 36 years old and has 5 years remaining on his 10-year $240 million deal that he signed in 2013. Despite being suspended 80 games for violating the MLBs drug policy, he hit .303 with 10 homers and 50 runs batted in over 80 games. His lifetime numbers speak for themselves, but the biggest question is how much does Cano have to offer at his older age? Time will tell if this trade was really worth it but if anything, it showed the fans and the other teams that the usually dormant Mets were ready to start making moves. Later in the same month the Mets reunited with the former all-star and saves leader, Jeurys Familia. Familia was traded to the Oakland Athletics in mid-July 2018. Familia was quite good for the Athletics. Used mostly as their set-up guy, he had a 4-2 record and 3.45 ERA in 30 games played. Familia has had a weird history as a Met. At times he’s been absolutely dominant and looked brilliant, but then there were times when he would walk the bases loaded and make us all question how the hell, he even got on the mound by himself. But with a reinforced bullpen, hopefully Familia will be able to get back to being brilliant and have a good season. Very soon after that, the Mets made a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers to get the lefty center fielder, Keon Broxton. Keon is very similar to Juan Lagares in the sense that he isn’t known so much for his bat as he is for his defensive plays. He’s had some brilliant home run robberies over the years and covers a lot of range in center field. His swing does have some pop in it though, so if he can work on being a more effective hitter, he’d prove to be a great asset to the Mets. A couple of days later, the Mets inked Wilson Ramos to a 2-year contract. The Mets had previously been in on trying to trade for J.T. Realmuto but the asking price for him seemed to get way too high and the Mets decided to go a different route. They were able to get Ramos for a decent price and now have a good bat in the catcher spot. Ramos is a 2x All-Star and former Silver Slugger. He’s only 31 and gives the Mets some hope in terms of an offensive catcher. He’s a very welcome addition to the team and one that the Mets have needed for a long time. The most recent signing was with 2018 All-Star, Jed Lowrie. This signing happened yesterday (as of this writing) and truly came out of nowhere. Lowrie was a bright spot for the Athletics the past few seasons but 2018 seemed to really be his year. A veteran infielder with a lifetime .262 Batting Average, the signing is a sign that the Mets are looking to add bats to their lineup. But the signing also comes with an issue of its own…the overcrowded Mets’ infield. With Peter Alonso probably coming up to the Major Leagues this season, it draws the question of where Lowrie fits into the infield. I have my own ideas on how they should address that issue but that’s a topic for a different post.

            With all of that being said, the Mets have spent nearly $200 Million this offseason and have really proven to be the most aggressive club from the day the offseason officially started. Brodie Van Wagen has proven to know what he’s doing and is a pretty good negotiator. Getting Ramos and Lowrie for as cheap as he did, his skills from being a former agent definitely showed. Honestly, the only problem that wasn’t’ addressed was adding a better bat in the center field position. There’s still time though but I don’t know how they’d managed to juggle another outfielder at this point. But overall, Brodie has done a good job and it’ll be interesting to see if it all pays off. But as of this moment, I’d have to say his job as Mets’ General Manager warrants him a B+ overall. Let’s hope the Mets can give him some A+ effort and make it all pay off in the end. Until next time…Lets Go Metsies!