Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure as General Manager has been – well, polarizing, to say the least. With a variety of transactions, both big and small, he has quickly established himself as a Jerry Dipoto Lite, willing to do just about anything in order to creatively reshape his roster.
There’s no doubt that the team is better on paper today then it was at the end of last season, but has he sacrificed too much in long-term assets? Let’s take a look at some of his most notable moves and grade his work.
Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz Trade
It was the first big splash Brodie made in the office. It’ll definitely define this offseason, and more likely than not, it’ll define his overall time in the Mets GM position.
BVW traded top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn for closer Edwin Diaz and (probably) Cooperstown-bound second baseman Robinson Cano. The Mets also sent Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak to Seattle in an effort to relieve salary.
Not much needs to be said in justifying the Diaz side of this move. You don’t need to squint to make the case that he’s the best closer in baseball right now. He throws the ball hard – with some added filth – and is no stranger to high-leverage situations. He should nicely slot into the Mets’ closer role for years to come.
The Cano side is a little more complicated. It’s clearly a win-now move, as the contract will most definitely look bad when Cano hits 40 years old. But when the news broke that Brodie was giving up some of his top prospects, the angry faction of fans seemed to forget one thing: Cano is still really good at hitting baseballs!
I like this move, overall. You gotta give in order to get, and that’s what they did. The question has always been whether or not Brodie would follow the trade up with other appropriate moves to solidify the win-now roster, and we’ll get to that soon. But in a vacuum, I think this was a solid start.
Jeurys Familia Signing
When it was first reported that the Mets were bringing back their long-time closer (now as a set-up man), reactions were generally positive. He’s still a very, very good pitcher, and they got him on what seemed to be a pretty team-friendly deal.
Reactions to the move have soured a little bit after seeing other prominent relievers, including left-handed commodity Andrew Miller, get similar contracts.
But I personally can’t complain too much. Familia is pretty well-regarded by Mets fans, has proven himself in New York, and has valuable playoff experience (yeah, I know, he blew a few games – but he actually pitched very well overall in the 2015 postseason).
I do see where the complaints are coming from. But Jeurys should be able to get the job done just fine. And more “Danza Kuduro” at Citi Field is never a bad thing.
WILSON RAMOS SIGNING
I think this was objectively good!
Reports say that Brodie tried to offer Yasmani Grandal a good amount of money (maybe not the $60 million that was first reported, but still). He tried to pry JT Realmuto from Derek Jeter’s cold hands, but couldn’t do it without giving up beloved and promising stars in Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo.
So he pivoted, signing Ramos on a team-friendly deal. The bat is really, really nice. His catching ability is average. And he’s an experienced veteran.
I can’t really find anything to complain about here, unless you want to argue that we should’ve shelled out more for Grandal.
TRADING FOR KEON BROXTON AND JD DAVIS
We’ll group these transactions together, because they were done back-to-back and with similar purpose.
This past weekend, Brodie traded a series of young, high-upside prospects in order to acquire center fielder Broxton from the Brewers and corner utility man Davis from the Astros. The cost was pretty high: fans particularly lamented the losses of Luis Santana and Ross Adolph, who scouts see as very valuable pieces (though still far from the majors).
I’m looking forward to watching Broxton a bit, as I think his bat has more upside and his defense will be fun to watch regardless. Davis is…meh. He’ll hit some homers off the bench and is versatile in the field, but we shouldn’t get too excited.
I think these moves have the worst optics of all this winter’s transactions. It certainly seems like an active decision to pay for depth with prospects instead of money (though that’s more on the Wilpons than Brodie, of course).
MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH
It isn’t the flashiest area, but I think this is arguably where Brodie has done the best job so far.
The Mets organization has been notably thin on the fringes for quite a while now. By bringing in names like Gregor Blanco, Rajai Davis, Rymer Liriano, Walter Lockett, and Hector Santiago, BVW has stocked the AAA roster with some nice fill-in pieces. Injuries happen, so we’ll probably see some of these guys with the big-league club this year, and that’s okay.
It goes without saying that some of these moves have more weight than others, so I’m not going to try to average these grades together. Instead, I want to look at the facts that make up the big picture.
Fact: Brodie Van Wagenen has made the Mets better for 2019.
Fact: He paid quite a bit (probably a little too much?) in order to do so.
Fact: He has made very bold claims about spending and winning for years to come, and in a lot of ways, he has yet to back them up.
Fans are going to be unhappy if we don’t get any more moves this offseason. I find it hard to believe that Brodie is totally done. In fact, I could definitely see him surprising us with another exciting acquisition.
So far, though, it would be unrealistic to call the offseason an astounding success. Instead, I’m going to categorize Brodie Van Wagenen’s work (so far) in a place Mets fans know all too well:
The Land of Mediocrity.