On October 29, 2018, Brodie Van Wagenen became the General Manager of the New York Mets, replacing Sandy Alderson. Age concerns and health issues caught up to him, which caused him to step down. Van Wagenen was the General Manager of the Mets from then until November 6, 2020, where he was fired under new owner Steve Cohen.
Van Wagenen’s Career
Prior to the hiring, Van Wagenen worked at Creative Arts Agency, where he served as a co-head of the baseball division. Additionally, he was hired by the Chicago Bulls to sell tickets and sponsorship deals. He worked at IMG for Casey Close and Mark McCormack. Throughout the past decade, Van Wagenen has been an agent for many different players. In 2016, he helped Yoenis Cespedes negotiate a three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets. 3 years prior, he negotiated a 10-year, $240 million deal for Robinson Cano, as he would resign with the Seattle Mariners. Van Wagenen was then an agent for former NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow as he made his transition to baseball.
Questionable Moves by Van Wagenen?
While the Mets thought they had a future General Manager, Van Wagenen has been nothing short of clueless. From dumb trades to overpaying mediocre players, there is a reason why he is gone. In my next paragraph, I will discuss the 5 worst moves he made as the Mets General Manager.
5) Signing of Wilson Ramos
In December 2018, the Mets agreed to a 2-year deal with catcher Wilson Ramos. The deal was worth $19 million as he looked to bring his former self to the team. Ramos was known for his solid hitting and defense in Washington and Philadelphia. New York signed Ramos to replace the frequently injured Travis D’arnaud, as backup catcher Kevin Plackweki was far from reliable.
While the team had hoped for a solid defensive catcher, his defense was among the league’s worst in 2019. His connection with Noah Syndergaard behind the plate was awful to say the least.
Even though the team thought he would improve in a shortened season in 2020, his offensive output was below average and his defense was even worse. After the 2020 season, the Mets parted ways with Ramos after 2 seasons. In my opinion, New York and Brodie Van Wagenen could have used backup catcher Tomas Nido as the everyday guy behind the plate.
4) Trading for Jake Marisnick
While the Mets had hoped they were getting a solid bat in Marisinick, injuries derailed his season and he wasn’t what the team asked for. Meanwhile, the Astros found a gem in reliever Blake Taylor. Taylor posted a 2-1 record with a 2.18 ERA and helped a struggling Astros bullpen.
This trade is a good example of how trading prospects for a veteran isn’t always going to end successfully. Although Taylor now has a future in Houston, Marisnick’s is uncertain. The outfielder is 29 and is beginning to regress.
3) Signing Jeurys Familia
With the Mets lacking depth in their bullpen, they brought back an old friend in Jeurys Familia in the 2018 offseason. After a rough beginning to 2018, Familia was dealt to the Oakland Athletics, where he posted a 3.13 ERA, racking up nearly 20 saves. The deal was worth $30 million over 3 years.
However, he was far from what the team had hoped for. In his first full season back in Queens, he was abysmal. Appearing in 66 games, he had an ERA of 5.70, which is just terrible for a former elite pitcher. While he improved in 2020s shortened campaign, posting a 3.70 ERA, he was inconsistent and not great.
Overall, Familia is not the same pitcher he once was. Whether his velocity has gone down, or his strike percentage has, the last 3 years have not been kind to Familia. Van Wagenen and the Mets front office made a risky decision here, and it didn’t pay off. Familia is in the final year of his contract in 2021, with a chance to turn it around.
2) The Disaster of Jed Lowrie
In an offseason that featured stars such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the Mets decided to play it safe and sign Jed Lowrie. On January 16, 2019, the team signed a 2-year, $20 million contract with the expectation of him being the starting 3rd baseman.
Lowrie had previously played for the Oakland Athletics and hit .267 in 2018. Even though his age was a variable in him hitting the market, the Mets took a chance on him.
Before 2019 even started, Lowrie suffered a capsule sprain in his left knee. Though he was expected to miss the start of the season, nobody expected he would be out until September. In 2 years with the team, he accounted for 7 at-bats and no hits. It is safe to say the signing was a huge failure on Van Wagenen’s part.
1) Diaz and Cano From Seattle
Another move Brodie Van Wagenen made during the 2019 offseason was sending Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Jay Bruce, Gerson Bautista, and Anthony Swarzak to the Seattle Mariners. In return, the Mets acquired closer Edwin Diaz and veteran 2nd baseman Robinson Cano. Additionally, as part of the deal, the Mariners sent the Mets $20 million.
There was immediate hope for the Mets following the trade. In 2018, Diaz was the league’s best closer, as he posted an ERA under one and an astounding 57 saves. However, Diaz completely flopped in 2019. Diaz posted a pathetic 5.68 ERA and blew 7 games. The 2019 Mets finished 86-76 and could have had at least 90 wins if Diaz pitched better.
The other player the Mets acquired was veteran Robinson Cano. Cano, a former Yankee, and Mariner was 36 years old when coming to the Mets and there was high risk. In 2019, Cano was a massive disappointment, posting a .256 average even though he was above .280 for the majority of his MLB career.
Though it may not hurt them in 2021, the pieces the Mets gave away for Cano and Diaz were nowhere worth the price. This is an example of poor thinking by Van Wagenen and the Mets.