Mets part ways with Van Wagenen, others

November 6th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Hours after Steve Cohen finalized his deal to purchase the Mets, the team parted ways with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen amid a flurry of significant front office moves on Friday afternoon.

The Mets announced that Van Wagenen is leaving the organization, along with top executives Omar Minaya, Allard Baird, Adam Guttridge and Jared Banner.

Cohen had previously announced that Sandy Alderson would take over as team president, filling the role of longtime owner Jeff Wilpon. Alderson “has begun the process of building a new Baseball leadership group,” according to a team statement. That will include the hiring of a new GM.

“I want to thank Brodie, Allard, Adam and Jared for their contributions over the last two years,” Alderson said. “I especially want to thank Omar for his long and distinguished service to the Mets in many important capacities.”

Van Wagenen, 46, joined the Mets prior to the 2019 season after serving many years as a player agent, most recently at CAA. He immediately began reconstructing the roster with a series of aggressive moves, including a seven-player trade that sent top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners for Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz.

Over the ensuing year, Van Wagenen traded multiple prospects in win-now moves for J.D. Davis, Marcus Stroman, Jake Marisnick, Billy Hamilton and others. His most significant free-agent signings -- Wilson Ramos, Jeurys Familia, Jed Lowrie, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha and Dellin Betances -- largely did not work out for the organization, as the Mets missed the playoffs two straight seasons under Van Wagenen’s direction. But Van Wagenen did leave behind several top prospects, including Matthew Allan and Pete Crow-Armstrong, who were the products of an aggressive Draft strategy.

“I am grateful to Jeff for both the incredible opportunity and the unwavering support that he gave to me while in my role of GM,” Van Wagenen said in a statement. “We took a team that had suffered losing seasons in 2017 and 2018 to contention in 2019 and onto a chance for real success in 2020 prior to the pandemic. The energy and excitement of the fans in 2019 will stay in our minds forever.” 

Baird and Guttridge served as Van Wagenen’s assistant GMs throughout his tenure, joining the organization shortly after his hiring. Baird’s focus was on scouting and player development, while Guttridge’s was on analytics.

Minaya, as a former Mets GM and a longtime friend of ownership, predated Van Wagenen in the organization. The Wilpons hired Minaya back to serve as a special assistant under Alderson, then leaned on him throughout the GM search that ended with Van Wagenen’s hiring. Since that time, Minaya had focused on scouting, though he was active in all areas of baseball operations.

Banner served under Baird when the latter was a senior vice president in the Red Sox organization; when Baird moved to New York, Banner followed as the Mets’ new farm director.

The departures of those five open significant positions within the Mets’ front office. Most prominently, Alderson must hire a GM, though he could also name a president of baseball operations with a GM beneath him. While A’s assistant GM Billy Owens and Rays special assistant Bobby Heck have been linked in media reports to the Mets’ GM position, those remain rumors for now.

Similarly, neither Cohen nor Alderson have publicly discussed the fate of John Ricco, the Mets’ former assistant GM who became a senior vice president under Wilpon after Van Wagenen was hired. Ricco grew close to Alderson during their time together last decade, and he served as interim GM when Alderson took a leave of absence to address health problems. Neither Ricco nor Alderson responded to messages regarding that situation.

Also unresolved is the status of manager Luis Rojas, whom many around the industry believe will stay for a second season. Cohen is scheduled to hold an introductory press conference on Tuesday. More answers should surface at that time as the Mets embark on a new era.

“Congratulations to Steve Cohen on the purchase of your home-town team,” Van Wagenen wrote in his statement. “I hope that your energy, competitiveness and resources will be welcomed by Major League Baseball. The sport can benefit from your fearlessness and aggressiveness.”