Mets executive vice president and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is leaving the organization, the club announced (via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). Also departing are special assistant Omar Minaya, assistant general managers Allard Baird and Adam Guttridge, and executive director of player development Jared Banner.
New owner Steve Cohen had already confirmed he’d bring in Sandy Alderson to lead baseball and business operations once his purchase of the franchise became official. That made it seem likely Van Wagenen, the outgoing Wilpon family’s choice to lead baseball operations, might find himself on the outs. His departure mere hours after Cohen officially assumed control of the organization isn’t a huge surprise.
Nevertheless, it comes as quite the shock that four other high-ranking Mets’ officials will follow him out the door immediately. It’s not uncommon for incoming ownership groups to bring in a new baseball operations leader who gradually reshapes the composition of the front office. Wholesale changes of this magnitude at the top of a baseball operations department, though, are unheard of.
Alderson will now go to work on constructing the front office in his own vision. He’ll seemingly have full support from Cohen in hand-picking a staff. As Marc Carig of the Athletic points out (via Twitter), longtime Mets executive John Ricco survived the initial round of departures. Ricco and Alderson built a strong relationship during Alderson’s previous tenure leading the Mets’ baseball ops department, Craig notes, perhaps portending that he’ll again take on a significant role with Alderson running the show.
There’s also no indication as of now that the job of manager Luis Rojas is in any jeopardy. Rojas was a Van Wagenen hire for that position, getting the managerial chair last offseason. But the 39-year-old has been a coach in the Mets’ minor-league system for the better part of two decades, completely overlapping with Alderson’s 2010-18 stint as GM. It’s possible that past relationship gives him a better opportunity at coming back for a second year as New York’s skipper.
As for Van Wagenen, this officially brings to an end his two-year tenure atop the front office. He orchestrated the infamous Edwin Díaz and Robinson Canó trade, parting with top prospect Jarred Kelenic and acquiring a sizable portion of Canó’s rather hefty contract. To Van Wagenen’s credit, both Díaz and Canó performed at a high level this past season after disappointing in 2019. Nevertheless, that looks like an obvious miscue that might haunt the organization for a while. His acquisition of Marcus Stroman midseason in 2019 also didn’t work out the way the club hoped, although that move was always made with a 2020 playoff push in mind. No one could’ve foreseen last summer that the 2020 season would play out the way it did.
To his credit, Van Wagenen did buy low on an everyday-caliber player when he acquired J.D. Davis from the Astros in 2018. His signing of Wilson Ramos to a two-year free agent contract also had its high points, particularly in 2019. The greatest feather in his cap, though, is probably the contract extension the Mets brokered with Jacob deGrom in May 2019, keeping arguably the best pitcher in the sport in Queens for the long-term.
A two-year span is quite a short amount of time to judge any executive’s body of work, and it stands to reason other clubs could have interest in Van Wagenen for some other front office position, assuming that’s what he desires. Van Wagenen made the atypical jump from Creative Artists Agency to the head of a team’s front office. He renounced all ties to his previous clients (deGrom among them) when he joined the Mets, but it’s possible he might now look to return to the other side of the negotiating table.