New York Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen spoke to reporters and MLB Network on Wednesday following a busy day four of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
The press conference was shorter in time than yesterday’s with responses that were brief, more direct and dealt little about what transpired behind closed doors.
Van Wagenen was asked early on about potential trades and he mentioned that he was not allowed to talk to these players but would rather have to depend on his “inner circle” that accompanied him to the meetings. He mentioned that he would and has relied on Omar Minaya, John Ricco, Allard Baird, Adam Guttridge along with Jeff Wilpon to provide him the necessary information on all these players. Later he also included Jared Banner as part of the team assembled as they all prepare for the Rule 5 draft which is tomorrow.
He mentioned that he wants to add a bat to increase run production and to improve depth through all areas of the team. Van Wagenen also wants to “bolster” the bullpen but mentioned no time frame as to when any of this would be accomplished.
The topic of catcher came up and he uttered perhaps one of the more important quotations from the press conference when he said, “we don’t have to wait for a catching decision to impact any of the other moves he makes”. His choice for a more offensive or defensive catcher was left open and that he intends to explore all options when it comes to the team’s backstop.
Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman’s name came up in the proceedings and Van Wagenen quickly noted that that there are no “closed doors” between the Mets and the Yankees either at these meetings or going forward. He repeated the desire to have transparency when dealing with Cashman and all other baseball executives because as he said yesterday, “it builds equity”.
Van Wagenen is hopeful Yoenis Cespedes will be available in 2019 but will be a big part of the team in 2020. He again mention that he is being transparent with other teams in discussing Cespedes’ status for this year and beyond.
In the one instance he showed some direction he is plotting for his team, Van Wagenen said he prefers to set “higher goals” and to try to accomplish them all. This may not occur by Opening Day, but if the Mets stick to the model and show some consistency, the results will be positive. He also doesn’t want to set the bar too low and surprise teams when the Mets surpass them.
Van Wagenen clearly has set forthrightness, clarity, and transparency as paramount factors in his new job. He showed these assets again when he was asked about playing time for potential new or even existing players. Van Wagenen said, “We sell opportunity” and will always be truthful with his players.
When asked about a “big bopper” for the line-up Van Wagenen was vague but did add that he spoke with the agent of Adam Jones. He also mentioned that Juan Lagares is, as of now, the Mets center fielder although reports surfaced on Wednesday that he and his $9 million contract are being shopped around.
Van Wagenen also spoke of Luis Guillorme as a potential depth option at shortstop going forward. He mentioned that he didn’t want to force the shortstop position on Jeff McNeil. Although BVW did mention that McNeil’s flexibility will allow him to play other positions, particularly in the outfield. He further extolled the virtues of McNeil during his interview on MLB Network when he said that he hits for average everywhere he’s been in professional baseball. McNeil hit .329 in 225 ABs with the Mets in 2018.
Besides chatting about McNeil, he told the panel on MLB Network that he wants “length in the line-up” and wants his players to never “give away at-bats.” He spoke again about the catching situation adding that the Mets have a great rotation and needs a catcher to “stabilize the staff.” He further repeated that it would take an “extraordinary situation” to trade Noah Syndergaard.
In covering his last two press conferences, it has become clear that Brodie Van Wagenen is a well-spoken, polished and bright individual who appears transfixed in turning this organization around. He also seems transfixed in making the process transparent as he has used this word many times in both the press conferences and with MLB Network.
There is no doubt that the player will come first in his tenure as GM. One can only hope his methods will bring a winning team to Flushing for years to come.