New GMs are always eager to put their stamp on a team, which by itself isn’t a bad thing. After all, the old GM was let go for a good reason in most cases. The new GM doesn’t have any allegiance to the old GMs players and looks to bring in his guys in two main ways. The first is by paring the bottom of the roster of dead weight. And the second is trading the old GMs prospects for MLB players.
When Omar Minaya became the Mets’ GM, he traded prospects like Ian Bladergroen, Yusmeiro Petit and Gaby Hernandez for help for the MLB roster. Minaya certainly sold high, even with Petit’s never-ending career, as he helped bring in Carlos Delgado. In an ideal world, this is how it works. New guy comes in and makes an accurate assessment of the talent on hand and isn’t held back by false allegiance to “his” guys.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Hindsight allows us to be appreciative of Minaya’s moves but we shouldn’t pretend that he received nothing but praise in real time. Believe it or not, fans were upset with the Bladergroen deal, as he was coming off a season with a .992 OPS at Lo-A Capital City. But Minaya was right, as Bladergroen never advanced to Double-A.
Let’s look at the Mets’ 40-man roster now, to see the turnover that’s happened now that Brodie Van Wagenen is in the early stages of his second year on the job. Currently, 14/15 (depending on how you feel about one guy) of the players on the 40-man were brought in by Van Wagenen. And with Tyler Bashlor and Jacob Rhame still on the 40-man, you could argue he hasn’t done enough to clear out the inherited dead weight. Here are Van Wagenen’s additions:
Dellin Betances – Free agent signing for the 2020 season. Betances missed most of 2019 and is a medium-risk move. If he comes back close to his previous form, he’ll be a great addition.
Brad Brach – Signed during the 2019 season after he was released by the Cubs for being terrible. Was one of the few midseason additions to add any value at all to the club last year. Re-signed on a team-friendly deal.
Robinson Cano – Van Wagenen’s personal albatross. It’s his allegiance to Cano that got him on the roster in the first place and it’s his allegiance to Cano that will keep the baseball senior citizen in the starting lineup as long as he’s healthy.
J.D. Davis – Acquired in a trade for prospects prior to the 2019 season, Davis worked out better than anyone could have possibly hoped for last year.
Edwin Diaz – Acquired in Van Wagenen’s big first deal, Diaz went from best reliever in baseball in 2018 to one of the worst last year. A rebound is certainly possible.
Jeurys Familia – A longtime Met, originally signed back when Minaya was GM, but who was traded by Sandy Alderson and then reacquired by Van Wagenen prior to 2019. He was terrible last year and still has two years left on his contract.
Stephen Gonsalves – A former top prospect in the Twins organization, the Mets picked him up off waivers this past offseason to be a depth starter to stash in Triple-A.
Walker Lockett – Acquired in a deal prior to the 2019 season to be a depth starter to stash in Triple-A. Had an 8.34 ERA in 22.2 IP for the Mets last year.
Jed Lowrie – A free agent signing to be the team’s starting third baseman, he missed most of last year with assorted leg injuries and when last seen in Spring Training this year, he was wearing one of the bulkiest braces on his leg that you’ll ever see a pro athlete wear.
Jake Marisnick – Acquired for 2020 in a prospect trade with the Astros. Brings a much-needed defensive reserve outfielder to the roster.
Rick Porcello – One of two free agent pitchers the Mets signed for the starting rotation. A reliable innings eater who had the worst season of his 11-year career in 2019. He looked good in Grapefruit League play.
Wilson Ramos – Signed as a free agent prior to 2019 to upgrade the catching position. Proved more durable than expected and was a solid bat in the lineup. Did not impress with his defense.
Marcus Stroman – Acquired in a midseason deal last year for two top prospects. Had a rough introduction to the Mets but seemed to straighten things out in his final four starts.
Michael Wacha – The other free agent pitcher added along with Porcello for 2020. Injuries have taken their toll on Wacha, who’s likely headed to the bullpen.
Justin Wilson – Lefty signed as a free agent for the 2019 season. Was one of only two dependable relievers in the team’s pen last year. Had a 2.54 ERA but a 3.93 FIP.
The Cano/Diaz trade looms large over everything else Van Wagenen has done so far in his tenure as Mets’ GM, both for the failure of those two in 2019 and Jarred Kelenic blossoming into one of the top prospects in all of MLB. A rebound by both Cano and Diaz in 2020 could go a long way towards evening up Van Wagenen’s ledger.
At this point in time, looking at the rest of the additions has the feel of the old joke – “Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” Perhaps five years from now we might have several years of a highly-productive Betances, Davis and Stroman to truly balance things out. Right now, we hope that Van Wagenen doesn’t engage in any more blockbuster deals. Instead, let’s see him upgrade on the margins, looking to eliminate the Bashlors of the roster.