PHILADELPHIA – The first major decision for the new waiting Mets boss will be who will oversee baseball operations.
Steve Cohen’s transition to the Mets owner won’t be official until next month at the earliest, when MLB owners vote on the $ 2.4 billion deal that leaves the hedge fund billionaire in control of the franchise. However, it is also possible that the voting only takes place at the quarterly owners’ meeting in November. Cohen needed 23 of 29 votes.
The Wilpon and Katz families will cast their votes on organizational matters, but it is less clear whether General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen will retain control of the baseball operation.
According to sources, Van Wagenen and Cohen have spoken several times since last winter when Cohen, a minority partner, first entered into exclusive negotiations to buy the team. That deal never materialized, however, when the potential role of team COO Jeff Wilpon became a sticking point in the new regime. As part of the emotional process, Cohen also met key members of Van Wagenen̵
“[Cohen] is no stranger to Brodie, ”said a source.
The Post reported in January that Van Wagenen wanted Cohen’s input in selecting a replacement for Carlos Beltran, who resigned after his role in the Astro’s illegal sign theft program was revealed. But Cohen didn’t want to interfere at the time and preferred to see how Van Wagenen was handling the situation. Van Wagenen eventually rose from the inside, promoting quality control trainer Luis Rojas to the position.
The source said Van Wagenen’s staff are optimistic that Cohen will have this front office in place for at least next season before changes are considered. This is especially true if Cohen isn’t approved until November, when the teams are already formulating a strategy for the off-season. But even if Cohen were approved in October, his schedule for installing a new front office would be tight.
The expectation is that Cohen would hire a team president to oversee the day-to-day running of the club. Jeff Wilpon is currently taking over these responsibilities.
One possibility until a team president is hired is for Cohen to allow Van Wagenen to report directly to him. If Cohen’s purchase of the team happened months earlier, Van Wagenen would be less likely to return.
Van Wagenen, a former agent, became general manager of Mets in October 2018 after the search began with Sandy Alderson’s resignation last June. Under Van Wagenen, who received a four-year contract, the Mets missed the playoffs last season and ended with 86-76.
If the Mets, who lost 4-1 to the Phillies on Tuesday, don’t get hot in these last eleven games, they’ll miss the playoffs again, even in an expanded format that includes eight teams from each league.
These results hardly scream “job security”, but Van Wagenen may have the calendar on his side.
“A new GM has to come in and get his people in position, he has to find out what’s where,” the source said. “[Cohen] will replace Jeff’s job. Steve won’t come in and do that himself. “