In October 2018 the Mets hired their 13th General Manager in franchise history.
In his introductory press conference, Van Wagenen promised bold moves that excited Mets fans.
In the almost two years since his hiring Van Wagenen has had a few ups and a lot of downs.
Let’s start with the bad.
On December 3rd, 2018 just over a month after his hiring Van Wagenen’s first bold move as Mets GM was announced. A blockbuster trade in which the Mets acquired Second basemen Robinson Cano, and Closer Edwin Diaz. The Mets traded two top 100 prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn along with Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, and Gerson Bautista. This trade backfired during the 2019 season. Cano hit .256 with 13 Home Runs and 39 RBIs in 390 at-bats in 107 games. The real disaster came from Edwin Diaz’s performance in 2019. Diaz had a 5.59 ERA in 66 games with a 4.51 FIP. His biggest problem during the season as he allowed 15 Home Runs in 58 innings pitched. The Cano/Diaz trade is the type of trade that makes or breaks a GM.
The other real problem with Van Wagenen’s tenure as GM has been his willingness to trade prospects for players whom he overvalues. The first insistent of this type of trade was in January 2019 in a trade for Outfielder Keon Broxton. Mets traded Reliever Bobby Wahl and two prospects for prospects. Before the trade, Broxton was a lifetime .221 hitter, but the Mets were trading for his defensive capabilities. Broxton only hit .143 in 34 games for the Mets before being traded to Baltimore in May and was claimed off waivers by Seattle in July.
The Mets made a trade for a similar outfielder when the traded for Jake Marisnick in December of 2019. Marsick a good defender like Broxton is also a light hitter only hitting .227 lifetime. And just like the Broxton trade, the Mets traded two prospects for Marisnick.
Then on August 1st, 2020 the Mets made yet another trade for a solid defensive, but light-hitting outfielder in Billy Hamilton for yet another prospect. Van Wagenen also made a big trade for starting pitcher Marcus Stroman during the 2019 trade deadline in exchange for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson. And with the Mets losing Zack Wheeler to free agency, Noah Syndergaard to injury along with Stroman, Kay could have helped fellow Mets rookie pitcher David Peterson in the rotation alongside Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.
Despite Van Wagenen’s history of trading prospects his promise of bold moves has helped him somewhat replenish their starting pitching depth in both the 2019 and 2020 drafts.
In 2019 he took a big chance in drafting Matthew Allen a top 20 prospect in that year’s draft with signability concerns by drafting him in the 3rd round after they had drafted another highly rated starting pitching prospect in Josh Wolf. But, Allen signed with the Mets for a $2.5 million signing bonus. In 2020 the Mets took a chance on Missippi State pitcher J.T. Ginn after drafting him in the second round after he had Tommy John Surgery. Like Allen, they signed Ginn despite the signability concerns.
But, so far Van Wagenen’s biggest win so far was his trade for 3B/OF J.D. Davis. The Mets traded three prospects for Davis who had only hit .194 in his limited playing time with the Astros in 2017 and 2018. This trade could have easily fallen into the category of the Keon Broxton trade, but Davis has been a stable offensive presence in the Mets lineup since the trade.
In his first season with the Mets in 2019 Davis hit .307 with 22 Home Runs and 57 RBIs in 140 games with 453 plate appearances. His production in 2020 as of the writing of this article is similar with a .327 batting average with 3 Home Runs and 11 RBIs in 58 plate appearances
We won’t know how to look at Van Wagenen’s tenure as Mets GM for a few years, but as it stands he has made a lot of bold moves with some working out and some not working out.
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