After the media scrum ended at Citifield celebrating the 7 player deal that brought Robinson Cano and Edgar Diaz to the Mets, I had a chance to spend 5 minutes alone with Brodie Van Wagenen and I must say that I learned a lot about him and his goal of making the Mets a championship team.
We chatted about the hours that he spent on putting this deal together and I really think the media is missing the fact that he knows so much about the Robinson Cano situation and after talking to Cano later in the afternoon, I realized the All-Star second basemen will go through a wall for his new boss.
But I also talked to a ton of team employees who told me that the work ethic of Brodie Van Wagenen is off the charts and he cares deeply about both winning while at the same time improving the lives of each of them in a tangible way. I also heard from many people both inside and outside the organization, that he is relentless on looking at every single possibility that could bring a championship to Flushing.
The thing I directly asked him about concerned the history of this organization since both Cano and Diaz spoke about that more than once on this day. I told him that I’ve been around this team on a daily basis since 1984 as a reporter and that is honestly the first time I’ve heard that at any press conference in my tenure covering this team.
We all know everyone compares the history of the teams that play in this town and everyone says the Yankees have so much history and that is absolutely correct. But the Mets have a great history and Brodie is keenly aware of that which may seem like a small step to some but to me it is crucial in understanding how this town opens its heart to the Mets. And how a championship-caliber Met team gets in the minds and souls of their fanbase in a way no other team in this town does in their championship moments.
This trade was the only the first step in finalizing a championship-caliber roster but sometimes that initial step is the most difficult one to take. Make no mistake–they are intent on bringing in more talent before the Mets take the field on Opening Day. That means in simple terms-Noah Syndergaard will not be traded unless the Mets get major league ready talent that can become core pieces on that roster in 2019. As a result, more than likely, the trio of Thor, deGrom, and Wheeler will be wreaking havoc on The National League East.
The Phillies were in constant contact with the Mariners about Edgar Diaz and the Mets knew that they had to finalize this deal because he was the guy Brodie Van Wagenen wanted to be the closer on this team for years to come. Did he overpay? Maybe but when was the last time the Mets did not worry about overpaying to get the man they wanted?
And that is the point here. Much like Omar Minaya did in circa-2006, Van Wagenen has the ear of ownership telling them spending is a key here and by that, he does not mean overspending. He will have to work within a budget he was given but I know for a fact that the Wilpons will listen to him about going beyond their budget if the player is not only reasonable but could be the piece that puts them over the top.
That is a culture change within this organization but I want to e crystal clear here. I do not think contracts in excess of 5 years is something I would do as a general manager. There are exceptions to every rule but I really feel that it has to be a massive exception. In my humble opinion, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are not exceptions but Mike Trout may be in 12 months or so.
The Met needs are plentiful: A catcher, more bullpen help, a right-handed bat (preferably a CF) and some bench strength. And there are options out there for all of those spots. The market for those free agents is still developing and will intensify during next week’s Winter Meetings. Expect Brodie Van Wagenen to explore every possible option because his goal is a simple one: Comprise a 95+ win roster that gets invited to MLB’s playoff party.
The immediate popularity of his moves is not something that concerns Van Wagenen. And I love that about him. He is also not an ego-driven baseball executive that thinks he knows it all. He understands there could be a learning curve and is relying on people around him to help him make the best decisions. You can only do that creating an atmosphere where there is an open dialogue and people are encouraged to present opposing viewpoints.
Everything I am hearing indicates to me that Van Wagenen gives everyone the impression that their opinions are listened to and those observations are entertained. That is a man who is confident of his abilities but also knows feedback like that is how an organization breeds success.
As you all know, in addition to my sports reporting career, I have consulted on hiring a number of high level Ad Sales Executives at major networks. I can safely tell you in those projects, I hoped and prayed that an executive like Brodie Van Wagenen walked through the door.
That kind of person does not grow on trees but Brodie Van Wagenen walked through the doors at CitiField at just the right time.