Brodie Van Wagenen arrived at the general manager’s meetings last November as a rookie GM only one week into his job with the Mets, after spending his career as an agent.
At that point, he still hadn’t hired top assistants Allard Baird and Adam Guttridge and was still trying to figure out how front-office holdovers from the last regime — Omar Minaya, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco — would fit into the equation.
The Mets were disjointed, and that might have played into an offseason by Van Wagenen that produced more misses than hits and possibly crippled the organization’s future with the deal that sent Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.
When the GM meetings begin Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., Van Wagenen will have the benefit of a year’s experience behind him. He will have Baird and Guttridge entrenched at his side, with Minaya still in the loop as an adviser (Ricciardi departed last winter for a job with the Giants and Ricco assumed a new role with the Mets).
The sense of stability can only help as Van Wagenen begins the search for pieces that will allow the Mets to compete for a title in 2020. There are obvious holes that need to be addressed.
Van Wagenen has already mentioned he might need to move Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to the rotation, but even if both were to remain in the bullpen, the Mets will need at least one high-octane reliever, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Diaz, who flopped last season. Drew Pomeranz, Daniel Hudson, Will Harris and Chris Martin are among the top free agents available. Last winter, Van Wagenen acquired Diaz, Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson and struck out on two of the three (Wilson, who will return for 2020, had a solid season). That batting average has to change.
The Mets could use a defensive upgrade at the position, allowing Michael Conforto to play right field full time, moving Brandon Nimmo to a part-time role. Juan Lagares’ option was declined for 2020, and it would be surprising if the team brought him back on a lesser deal. But players such as Nimmo, Dominic Smith and even J.D. Davis could be used as trade chips for a center field addition. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Starling Marte are names who could make sense as trade targets.
Zack Wheeler figures to receive plenty of interest on the open market and likely won’t accept the Mets’ qualifying offer. Where will the Mets go from there? Are they willing to offer Wheeler four or five years based on the past two seasons, in which Wheeler was largely successful, yet sometimes disappointed? Lugo and Gsellman shouldn’t be the only options if Wheeler departs. A veteran such as Wade Miley could boost the back end, allowing the Mets to avoid subtracting from an already questionable bullpen.