The Mets have found their new general manager, soon-to-be former player agent Brodie Van Wagenen, whom no one would have expected them to hire at the outset of their search. Here are a few reactions to the decision:
- New York made a mistake selecting Van Wagenen, who’s no more qualified to be the team’s GM than to serve as its first baseman, Buster Olney of ESPN opines (subscription required). Because of Van Wagenen’s tenure as an agent, there are conflict-of-interest concerns from Major League Baseball, the MLBPA and club management – all of which regard the hiring as “bizarre and inevitably problematic,” Olney writes. For instance, considering Van Wagenen has acted as the agent for the Mets’ two aces – Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard – Olney wonders if he’ll be able to represent the team’s interests instead of his ex-clients’. Further, Olney cites one club exec who’s wary of Van Wagenen because of the strong comments he made during last winter’s free-agent freeze, when he suggested teams were colluding against the players. Beyond that, one talent evaluator tells Olney the Mets made a “very strange” choice, in part because Van Wagenen won’t get the necessary time to adjust to being a GM, and that banking on this move to work is “like expecting the impossible.” The Mets should have made a safer selection and gone with one of the many qualified front office execs in the majors, Olney argues, pointing out that Van Wagenen now has to learn on the job while dealing with the Mets’ much-maligned ownership.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post echoes Olney in reporting that league officials and the union have issues with Van Wagenen’s hiring. Interestingly, both sides agree Van Wagenen should not be involved in arbitration cases for deGrom or Syndergaard during the upcoming winter, according to Sherman.
- While there are clearly strong opinions regarding the Mets’ pick, it’s anyone’s guess how it’ll actually work out. Van Wagenen’s not the first agent to take over as a major league GM – both Joe Garagiola Jr. and Dave Stewart did so in the past (each with the Diamondbacks), and Sherman discussed the transition with the two earlier this weekend. Garagiola admitted his background as an agent led to “skepticism” from his GM colleagues, saying: “Those first few GM meetings I went to, I was not greeted with open arms.” Stewart offered a similar sentiment regarding GMs, saying, “They look at agents as the dark side and agents look at them as the dark side.” Of course, as Sherman notes, both Garagiola and Stewart did have previous front office experience when they became GMs. That’s not the case for Van Wagenen, which could make his new career all the more difficult. On the other hand, Garagiola did name an advantage to going from a player representative to a GM: “Without question the biggest asset [brought to the GM job] is in dealing with agents in terms of contracts and negotiating for free agents. Many of the agents were contemporaries. My awareness of what the job entails gave me credibility with them.” For more from Garagiola and Stewart, check out Sherman’s full piece.