BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY- Brodie Van Wagenen, hired as the general manager in late October by the New York Mets, has seemingly made more productive deals this off-season for the team than any other GM in recent history. The Wilpons (notoriously perceived as ‘meddlers’ by Mets fans) have apparently loosened the leash on their general manager and, as a result, Van Wagenen has been aggressive, efficient, and cost-effective.
Because nothing dies on the Internet, full-disclosure: I was not in favor of Van Wagenen’s hiring, calling it a major conflict-of-interest due to his representing many of the players on the Mets’ roster. However, after talking with Mets’ outfielder Brandon Nimmo, my perspective on him began to change. As an agent for CAA, Van Wagenen represented him. Nimmo told me: “He’s going to bring old school and new school together. He’s going to use numbers to help him make decisions based on what his eyes see, rather than the other way around. I think he’s ready to win next year with this team.”
Ready to win next year is certainly how Van Wagenen has seemed to approach this off-season. First, and foremost: the Mets’ starting pitching staff, one of, if not the best, in Major League Baseball, has been completely kept in-tact. Van Wagenen then, via trades and free-agency, methodically addressed deficiencies at many different positions. To me, the most poignant offensive categories are: runs, runs batted in, batting average, and on-base percentage. In comparing what I project to be the 2019 starting Mets lineup to one I created by factoring in a player that got the most reps at each position, the proof is in the numbers. I project this years’ Mets to post an increase in all four categories: runs, runs batted in, batting average, and on-base percentage. With Van Wagenen’s upgrade to the bullpen in bringing in Edwin Diaz and bringing back Jeurys Familia, the hope is that there will be less blown saves, and, as a result, more wins for the Amazins.
— Brodie Van Wagenen (@GMBVW) December 4, 2018
For me, right now, Van Wagenen is rounding third base with his first off-season in Queens. For him to knock it out of the park, I have two more suggestions for him.
- Re-enter the relief pitching market
Not that Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia are not good enough, they are a great 1-2 punch to any opposing offense at the back end of the bullpen, but Van Wagenen should re-examine the market to afford manager Mickey Callaway some flexibility. Currently, the Mets’ top four relief pitchers are all right-handed: Diaz, Familia, Lugo, and Gsellman.
If a left-handed reliever is what the Mets are looking for, here are my suggestions, in this order (based on 2019 projections):
- Zach Duke: 3-3, 3.91 ERA, 53 IP, HR/9 8.7, SO9 8.5 … $2 mil
- Tony Sipp: 2-2, 3.94 ERA, 48 IP, HR/9 8.3, SO9 8.8 … $6 mil
- Oliver Perez: 2-2, 3.89 ERA, 44 IP, HR/9 8.0, SO9 9.6 … $1.7 mil
If the Mets decide to add another right-handed relief pitcher, here are my suggestions in this order (based on 2019 projections):
- Brad Brach: 4-4, 3.57 ERA, 63 IP, HR/9 1.0, SO9 9.0… $5.1 mil
- Adam Warren: 3-3, 3.63 ERA, 57 IP, HR/9 1.1, SO9 8.5 … $3.3 mil
2. A.J. Pollock, Outfielder
Over his six seasons, Juan Lagares averages 97 games-played per year, but in 2018, he was limited to just 30 due to a season-ending toe injury. Which Lagares will show up in 2019? The one that averaged 127 games per season through his first three seasons in Queens or the one that averaged 68 games per season through his most recent three seasons? That uncertainty, alone, should cause Van Wagenen to add another outfielder to the roster. No, I’m not talking about the litany of players that could fill-in in the outfield. I’m talking about a legitimate, Major League outfielder.
To me, thirty-one year-old free agent A.J. Pollock would slide seamlessly into the New York’s 2019 roster. For the Mets, my only concern about Pollock is the fact that his market value seems to be set at four years, $60 million (about $15 million per year). If the Mets are willing to put up the cash or play the field (hoping for a dip in his market value), Pollock will need to find a home in the New York metro area for his 2015 Gold Glove award, a 2015 All-Star selection, and a silver medal in the Pan-American games (Team USA).
Mets fans can get behind outfielder Brandon Nimmo’s hustle and production, right? Thus summer on WFAN, I discussed the fact that the Mets dropped the ball by not pushing harder for an All-Star (alternate) nomination for him. Click here to let me turn you into a believer. If only one could duplicate New York’s number nine….. Guess what- the Mets are in luck! Pollock’s 2019 statistical offensive production is eerily similar to Nimmo’s:
Pollock (31 yrs old): 108 H, 17 HR, 57 RBI, .252 BA, .316 OBP
Nimmo (25 yrs old): 107 H, 14 HR, 47 RBI, .262 BA, .380 OBP
Regardless, Van Wagenen has put together an A, A- off-season for the Mets. With the stock that was available to him, Van Wagenen managed to upgrade seemingly every position for the Mets. If he makes even one of these two moves (Pollock or an additional relief pitcher), I would award him an A+. In any event, for the first time in a long time, Mets fans should feel a sense of cautious optimism… and rightfully so.
* All 2019 statistical projections are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.