FILE -- Brodie Van Wagenen poses with Mets third baseman Todd Frazier.

AP Photo

Keidel: Will Curious General Manager Hire Pay Off For Mets?

Amazin's Rolling The Dice On Inexperienced Van Wagenen

Jason Keidel
October 28, 2018 - 9:35 am

So it seems the Mets have their man. 

Given a choice between three baseball men to run their club, the Mets chose the one with no experience running a baseball club. Brodie Van Wagenen, an MLB player agent who helped get Robinson Cano a $240 million deal from the Seattle Mariners, will be charged with avoiding that exact kind of contract with the Mets. Perhaps the low-end deal he negotiated for another client and current Met, Tim Tebow, is more in line with how the team wants to do business. 

It's a curious choice until you consider the Mets are a curious club. They move on from the former Marine, Harvard Law grad and sagacious baseball lifer in Sandy Alderson, who left the team after a cancer diagnosis, and tap the relative neophyte whose job was to bleed a franchise like the Mets for every dime for his players. Now Van Wagenen will be sitting on the other side of the desk, looking at his vocational reflection in other agents. 

MORE: Who Is Brodie Van Wagenen? 5 Facts About The Man Reportedly Set To Become Mets' New GM

Already we're hearing uncomfortable murmurs from baseball circles, from high-profile agents (Scott Boras) to MLBPA executives (Tony Clark) who feel that an agent swapping sides of the negotiating table could pose problems for other players. Folks like Clark and Boras worry that an agent who becomes a GM can use intimate knowledge of his former clients against them when it comes contract time. 

Van Wagenen has worked for the sports powerhouse Creative Artists Agency, which has a client list that includes a troubling number of Mets, such as Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo and Todd Frazier. The fear is that as head of baseball operations for the Mets, Van Wagenen has been told too many secrets by his clients to be objective over their salaries. 

"I won't tell you how many calls or how many texts I have gotten," Clark told reporters before Game 3 of the World Series. "I will simply suggest to you that our membership is paying attention."

Keep in mind Clark isn't just a lackey of the players union, he's the executive director, as well as a longtime MLB player whose career included some time as a Yankee. 

Boras sat with Yankees TV announcer Michael Kay, who also hosts a talk show on FM radio, echoing Clark's concerns. Boras said with a delicate dynamic like this, it's important for each party to have "defined roles." Baseball's most powerful agent also wondered why a major league player would tell his agent "the most intimate things in the world, knowing you're going to be negotiating against him." 

Even if we assume that Van Wagenen, 44, is honest as Abe, what about his bio so impressed the Mets that they tapped him over others? Especially given that the Mets' final three candidates included Doug Melvin, who has had this job before, as well as Chaim Bloom, who's even younger than Van Wagenen (35) and widely considered a gifted executive for the Tampa Bay Rays. 

This hiring just feeds the notion that the Mets look for marionettes, not employees, that the Wilpons never offer true autonomy to their personnel czar and want someone whose strings they can yank from the owner's box. It also italicizes the sense that sublime seasons, like the one they had in 2015, are aberrations, hiccups in an otherwise misguided organism and organization. There are a few precedents for this dynamic 

Like anyone the Mets sign, Van Wagenen deserves due process, an objective greeting and trial period as the man who runs this baseball club. Maybe he will surprise us with his acumen and instincts. He will be charged with the daunting dual roles of fertilizing the most barren farm system this side of the Mississippi, as well as getting his bosses to crowbar open their wallets for a Manny Machado type to sign a big bat to go along with deGrom, who just had one of the best seasons for a pitcher in 100 years. 

There is a small precedent here. The Los Angeles Lakers hired Kobe Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, to be their GM. But his boss is Magic Johnson, who knows everything about the NBA. The Arizona Diamondbacks hired iconic pitcher Dave Stewart as their GM after he took a turn as a player agent. Again, Stewart was more deeply tethered to the sport that Van Wagenen, and even still the Diamondbacks fired Stewart after a dismal tenure as personnel boss. 

We will just have to trust the Mets know what they're doing with Brodie Van Wagenen. If we must. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel​.