The Mets introduced their new General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, today at a press conference at Citi Field. Jeff Wilpon introduced Van Wagenen, saying that out of “40 something” initial candidates, 12 were interviewed, with each interview lasting two hours. Van Wagenen was their first choice, according to Wilpon.
Wilpon cited his negotiating background, as well as his knowledge and experience with both analytics and player development as key reasons why Van Wagenen stood out, as well as his emphasis on having a collaborative front office.
Wilpon also said that he has not seen his father, and Mets Chairman of the Board and CEO Fred Wilpon, as happy about a hire in “some time,” seemingly hurting Mickey Callaway’s feelings greatly, wherever he was watching the press conference.
Van Wagenen began his remarks by honoring his predecessor, Sandy Alderson, who was not in attendance today. He spoke of his admiration for Alderson dating back to his time as GM of the Oakland Athletics when Van Wagenen was a student at Stamford. He spoke of ‘leaning on’ Alderson throughout this process, implying that Alderson would still have a role of sorts in the Mets organization. Alderson, as of press time, is no longer listed on the official Mets front office listing on Mets.com.
Van Wagenen went on to thank the Wilpons, knowing he is not “the path of least resistance.” He spoke of a shared focus on players between himself and Fred Wilpon, saying that Wilpon “cares deeply for players.”
He then spoke of his skills as an agent, and how they may transition over to his front office role. “I helped players set goals, and then set up programs to help them achieve those goals,” Van Wagenen said. He said that the team will be “fearless and relentless in our pursuit of greatness,” and also commented on making character and makeup cornerstones of the team.
He spoke of investing in the on field team, the health/medical staff, player development, and analytics, saying that those categories were not mutually exclusive, and will all be priorities.
Van Wagenen’s prepared remarks ended with a mission statement: “We will win now, we will win in the future. We will develop a winning culture and a winning mindset. We will deliver this city and this fan base a team they can believe in.”
A brief question and answers session then followed, with both Wilpon and Van Wagenen answering questions from the press. Van Wagenen joked that he was surprised to receive a question about his comments this past summer about either trading his then-client Jacob deGrom or extending him. While not committing to signing deGrom to an extension, Van Wagenen identified him as the best pitcher in baseball, and stated that he intends deGrom to be a Met for a long time.
Van Wagenen also mentioned discussing his new role with deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and a few other clients, and found enthusiasm from all of them on his new role. When asked about potential conflicts of interest when negotiating with former clients, Wilpon stated that there are “provisions in Brodie’s contract to deal with potential conflicts of interest,” but refused to define that in more specific terms.
Wilpon also reinforced the idea of the team spending money in various areas, including analytics, this off-season.
While it is hard to get a real sense of the man or his managerial style from a brief press conference, Van Wagenen made a good impression in his official introduction to the Mets fan base. With the General Manager Meetings beginning on November 6th in Carlsbad, California, Van Wagenen will hit the ground running.
A portion of his press conference can be viewed on MLB.com.