Now that Billy Eppler is gone, and has etched his name into forgettable Mets lore, it might be just the perfect time to evaluate Brodie Van Wagenen’s performance as General Manager from October 2018 through November 2020. Yes, you read that right. While it is easy to judge a general manager in the immediate wake of their departure, it is important to look back at the decisions that they made during their tenure that are impacting the current team. Van Wagenen’s time will always be marked by the trade that netted the Mets Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano in exchange for Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. While at first this seemed like a failed trade due to the projected impact of Kelenic and the initial shortcomings of Edwin Diaz in New York, the trade has panned out to be a clear Mets victory. This made me think, are there any other transactions or moves made by Van Wagenen that have a positive impact on this current Mets squad?

The Mets did not make the playoffs while he was in charge, even though the 2019 team finished 86-76 and three games out of a playoff spot. He fired Mickey Callaway after that 2019 season, and hired, then fired Carlos Beltran before landing on Luis Rojas to lead the team. Rojas would go on to have a lackluster tenure with the Mets as well, lasting only through the 2021 season. Suffice to say, Van Wagenen did have the opportunity to make that many management decisions, but he missed on his selection of Rojas.

Looking back again at his trades, there is more than just the aforementioned Diaz deal. He also was responsible for acquiring J.D. Davis and Marcus Stroman, Mets who made their impact in different ways with the team. Davis was received for Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana. While Adolph and Santana are battling their way through the minor leagues, this trade was a win for Van Wagenen, who received a terrific 2019 from Davis. The Stroman trade also worked out for Van Wagenen, as Stroman pitched to a 3.40 ERA with the Mets, and the prospects given up, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson, have not yet made a major impact in the big leagues.

There were some clear blunders made by Van Wagenen as well, with Jed Lowrie leading the charge in that department. Lowrie’s two-year deal saw him have seven at-bats with the team, and lands him on the list of one of the worst signings in team history. Another clear blunder is letting Zack Wheeler leave for the rival Philadelphia Phillies when he was starting to round into his true potential as a starting pitcher. Wheeler was a dynamic pitcher in the second half of 2019, pitching to a 2.83 ERA with 68 strikeouts. Instead of retaining Wheeler, his departure signified the beginning of the end for the once vaunted Mets pitching core, as the injuries began to pile up for Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

In terms of draft picks, Van Wagenen never saw the fruit of some of the picks he made, but some of the picks he made were used to acquire major league talent in later seasons. JT Ginn was a second-round pick in 2020, and was the lead prospect used to acquire Chris Bassitt before the 2022 season began. Bassitt, although he failed to show up in big games like the rest of the 2022 rotation, provided great depth as a starter for the 2022 team. Perhaps though the best-known draft pick of Van Wagenen to be used in a trade is Peter Crow-Armstrong, who was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for Javier Baez in 2021. While Baez was actually solid for the Mets in 2021 the trade still was not worth it because the team not only missed the playoffs that season, but Crow-Armstrong is now considered the Cubs top prospect. Overall, Van Wagenen’s draft picks were valuable for temporary gains, but it looks like their impacts will be the greatest spent for other teams.

It is difficult to compile a complete judgement of someone who holds a job with as many responsibilities as the general manager of an MLB team. For Van Wagenen, his job was impacted not only by his performance, but he also had to contend with an unprecedented global health crisis and a new owner in town looking to make changes. Van Wagenen will always be most remembered for the Diaz-Kelenic deal with the Mariners, which he made during his first month on the job. Looking back on his tenure, it absolutely was not sterling, but he made more of a positive impact on the organization than some are willing to concede.

9 comments on “Looking back at Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure with the Mets

  • JimO

    This is interesting. I think he also had some innovative draft strategies too.

  • Metsense

    BVW was handicapped by the Wilpon’s financial restraints.
    Beltran and Rojas were inexperienced but cheap choices for manager and that was a mistake.
    The Diaz trade was a inexperienced mistake. Diaz made $22.9 at 5.1 bWAR. Cano made $95.4 at 1.2 bWAR. Net for the deal 118.3 at 6.3 bWAR or $29.575 for four years for a good closer. That was a very expensive trade.
    JD Davis was his apex followed up by the Stroman trade. Stroman screwed the Mets when he sat out after he got his vested time in 2020. Stroman got $50/2 for the Cubs in free agency. Stroman wasn’t a $25m a year pitcher. Zack Wheeler at $118m /5 should have been signed. Not signing Wheeler was a really large mistake. Jed Lowrie was a big mistake. Baez was a costly mistake and a PR nightmare. He didn’t perform until September when the Mets fell back. The Bassitt was a good trade.
    All in all, I still think BVW was a detriment for the Mets.

    • TexasGusCC

      Baez was on Cohen and his GM Zack Scott at the time.

  • Nym6986

    BVW was not as bad as it might seem but I took exception to hiring a GM whose experience was as a player agent Let’s not forget that Sandy Alderson had to bless all his moves. Diaz ended up being a big win after that first disastrous year he had. It’s been years and the top prospects we sent easy are just starting to pay dividends to their new teams. As far as signing Wheeler we all balked at paying $18 million a year but considering it was not tremendously over the qualifying rate, that was a screw up. Again the cheap Wilpons were not going to pay that much. He has certainly turned into a stud. Baez, Bassitt and Stroman were all good pickups. Would never hire someone again with such a lack of experience. But as has been discussed in this forum, did BVW make these calls or was he a high ranking admin position under Alderson?

  • TexasGusCC

    I feel BVW’s only mistake was the Cano/Diaz deal, but he had Seattle telling him that Philadelphia was interested and Seattle didn’t mind just keeping Cano. At the end, they still got JP Crawford for Jean Segura and that was a win for them too.

    BVW also was instrumental in beefing up the minor league coaching. Before him, there was simply a minor league hitting instructor. BVW put a pitching coach and a hitting coach on each staff. Too, he got Allen Baird from KC and insisted that all teams stress fundamentals. We saw what a disgrace Ames Rosario and Dominic Smith were fundamentally when they came up. Lastly, what I liked about BVW is he put a player in each position that belonged there. For years Alderson thought defense was an annoying facet of the game that interrupted his team’s at bats.

  • Bob P

    I would not call the Diaz trade a clear Mets win. Diaz was outstanding in 2022, and very good in 2020 and 2021, but the trade at the time was a huge overpay. When you take on a contract like Cano’s you shouldn’t be giving up a top 10 MLB prospect. Regardless of what Kelenic has done, he still had more value than the Mets got at the time.

    The Baez trade was another disaster. As Metsense said, even though his numbers as a Met looked good overall, he sucked for the first month he was here when the Mets were still in the playoff hunt. He padded his numbers in September when the team had no realistic chance of the playoffs. Again, even if Baez had been great the whole time, this was an overpay and I hated it then and even more now.

    We can evaluate the results with a few years of hindsight but that doesn’t change the value that they should have gotten at the time. Both to me were major overpays, Baez probably out of desperation and Cano probably as a favor to a former client.

    • TexasGusCC

      The Baez trade was done under Cohen and Alderson. Why is BVW even part of it?

      • Bob P

        It was addressed in the article since PCA was a draft pick of Brodie’s so
        I was responding to that.

  • T.J.

    Brodie’s tenure is tough to judge, it was very likely Jeff Wilpon’s tenure in response to his dad hiring an ex-marine just prior that kept him somewhat at bay. Nonetheless, I think the best deal during that tenure was the JD Davis trade. The worst move was the non-signing of Wheeler. While Diaz has grown into a fan favorite and I admire him both for his dominance as well as his ability to turn it around in NYC after his disastrous year 1, there is no way that can be scored as a victory at this stage. It was a massive overpay, Cano was a debacle, and Kelenic is still only 24 and put up 2.0 WAR last year in an abbreviated season. Brodie did draft Matt Allen and sign him. I liked the gamble at the time but unfortunately injuries have really dented his chances of making the bigs, no less being an impact pitcher.

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