The Mets have done a lot in recent years with Brodie Van Wagenen, a prominent agent who has worked for Mets players like Jacob de Grom, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo, and Todd Frazier.
Now the Mets negotiate with Van Wagenen in a different and unorthodox way: to let him fill his general manager vacancy. After a search that was limited to two finalists, Van Wagenen became the leading candidate, according to three people who were familiar with the negotiations, who were not allowed to speak publicly because a degree was not yet completed.
Because Van Wagenen, 44, has no experience as a team leader, the other finalist, Chaim Bloom, 35, the vice president of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, seemed to have been a safer bet. Van Wagenen would also have to overcome conflicts of interest concerns because the information players share with their agents is very small ̵
"I would be confident that the understanding and appreciation of confidential information will persist as such," said Tony Clark, managing director of the Players' Union.
It was not expected that the Mets will introduce their new Director-General until at least next week, after the end of the World Series, the Boston Red Sox will feature the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1.
Those who inherit the top baseball job of the Mets will have a lot to do. After reaching the 2015 World Series and again reaching the playoffs in 2016, the team lost two seasons and changed managers. There will also be questions about how much power a new Director General will give to the reputation of the owners, the Wilpon family, because he is heavily involved in the operations of the team.
Van Wagenen, who played baseball at Stanford University, has brokered nine contracts for stars including Ryan Zimmerman, Robinson Cano and Cespedes. This year, Forbes Van Wagenen ranked the 25th strongest sports agent. Through his clients, he is familiar with the inner workings of the Mets.
Van Wagenen would replace Sandy Alderson, who resigned in June after more than seven years due to a recurrence of cancer. In the meantime, the Mets have been led by three executives: Deputy General Director John Ricco and Special Assistants J. P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya.
Agents switched to frontoffices on baseball and other sports with mixed results. Dave Stewart, a former bowler, left his agency to become general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014, but only took two seasons to lose both.
Rick Hahn and Dennis Gilbert both leave careers as agents to become executives Chicago White Sox; Hahn is now the general manager and Gilbert a special assistant.
In the NB.A, Bob Myers played off his agent experience in an opportunity to build the Golden State Warriors into a championship. Rob Pelinka, another former agent, took over the Los Angeles Lakers last year and helped bring superstar LeBron James into the team this season.
The Mets invited three contestants – Bloom, Van Wagenen and Doug Melvin, a former general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers – for second interviews this week. Since the handling of the news media is part of the responsibility of a manager, the Mets all asked to talk to reporters on a conference call.
Melvin, a senior adviser to the Brewers, followed, but due to their current role, Van Wagenen and Bloom instead opted to publish statements about the Mets.
"In my role as an agent, my solution is to create opportunities for players to be successful both in the field and out of the field," Van Wagenen said in his statement. "By creating partnerships between players and teams, the interests of all parties can be reconciled."
He added, referring to the Wilpons: "As Jeff and Fred continue their search for a new leader in baseball operations, the players, fans, and the entire organization will be motivated to become a leader with the skills and excellence." If the Wilpons believe that I am that person, we will have this conversation. "
Van Wagenen had to leave his agency – he was one of the baseball bosses of the powerful Creative Artists Agency – to become a team leader, but it could be thorny with its former customers on the Mets.
For example, deGrom, who will be a free agent after the 2020 season, has on many occasions said he would be open to a contract extension to stay with the Mets. Van Wagenen and the Mets abandoned talks after initial talks last winter. In July, Van Wagenen criticized the Mets for "sluggishness" and suggested deGrom should be traded if the team did not want to extend it.
But if Van Wagenen is on the other side, deGrom might have reason to wonder how much the Mets would know about his negotiating position.
Scott Boras, another powerful agent, said he has concerns about the protection of inside information.
"The reality is, once you know it, you know," Boras said. "If you want to serve the interests of your employer, how can you not serve this dynamic by not disclosing all this information to him? You are not legally obligated not to reveal what agents are not."