Earlier this afternoon, the Mets sent shockwaves through the baseball world by reportedly agreeing to terms with former CAA agent Brodie Van Wagenen on a deal to become the team’s new General Manager. The hire, reportedly spearheaded by team COO Jeff Wilpon, is a puzzling one for an organization in flux: Van Wagenen, after all, was hired despite a résumé utterly devoid of any front office, scouting, or player development experience, and currently represents nearly a quarter of the Mets’ 25-man roster in contract matters. Charges of interest conflicts will assuredly be flung from all directions – according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the club seems as throughly entangled with the 44-year-old former agent as any in the league. In the past two offseasons alone, Van Wagenen has negotiated deals on behalf of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, third baseman Todd Frazier, and lefty Jason Vargas for a combined $143MM. Of particular interest to Sherman is Van Wagenen’s February 2018 outburst, where the agent, furious at perceived collusion in the glacially-paced free agent market, drafted a public statement suggesting that some frozen-out players may have been preparing to boycott the upcoming season. Van Wagenen, of course, has now scooted his seat to the other side of the table, where the traits he doubtless extolled so forcefully will likely be minimized at every turn.
The elephant in that room, it seems, is 30-year-old Jacob deGrom, on whose side Van Wagenen has long campaigned for either an extension or trade, and many questions await. Van Wagenen and his new colleagues could certainly extricate themselves from the awkward discussions to follow by peddling the ace at first opportunity in the forthcoming market, but that route seems altogether unlikely at this point. In a separate report by The Post, sources indicate that team owner Fred Wilpon is hell-bent on a playoff run next season and was loath to consider candidates who suggested otherwise.
In other rumblings from Flushing . . .
- Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News raises similar questions of the new hire, posing scores of inquiries about current and prospective players and the potential conflicts of interests with both. In particular, she addresses the cases of former Van Wagenen clients Cespedes and Vargas, both of whom the agent may be forced to engage in uncomfortable discussions with. Cespedes, of course, underwent a second surgery on his left heel yesterday and may miss up to half of the upcoming campaign. Though he’s been productive at the plate over the last two seasons, slashing .282/.343/.525, the 33-year-old has been limited to just 120 games over that time and will figure to miss a good deal more in the season to come. Vargas, 35, had a dreadful season last year, allowing 1.76 HR/9 and posting just 92 IP across 20 starts on the way to a 5.77 ERA. His 8.22 K/9, the highest of his career, did leave some room for optimism, but a return to a similar path will almost surely leave the new GM in an extremely awkward position with a former client who has just one year remaining on his deal.
- Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Matt Ricatto and Jeff Berry of CAA will now handle agency duties for deGrom following the departure of Van Wagenen.