Credit Brodie Van Wagenen’s patience when thinking about how the New York Mets landed former Yankee Dellin Betances.
Brodie Van Wagenen has the ability to analyze baseball’s free-agent marketplace in a unique way. His uncanny understanding of how it’ll shake out in advance is allowing him to create more depth in his rotation while improving the bullpen without just solely relying on bounce-back seasons from both Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
Over recent weeks, the Betances camp was seeking more than a one-year contract, but the market just wasn’t there. Brodie saw that and worked with a compromise, actually offering Dellin Betances a player option, which gives him a guarantee of a two-year pact at the very least. Interestingly, it also provides him the ability to reject it and opt for free agency if his performance and the marketplace change over the next 12 months.
Van Wagenen’s understanding that Betances would come back to his offer is the reason the former Yankee is now in Queens.
For the Mets, it gives them maximum roster flexibility in that pen. They now employ four hurlers who have closed in their career–Diaz, Familia, Seth Lugo and Betances, who possesses the ability to finish games. He is a four-time All-Star that gives Carlos Beltran a multitude of options for late-inning relief, including a name we haven’t even mentioned yet, Justin Wilson.
It could also mean Lugo could be considered for the rotation, especially if the Mets acquire a legitimate center fielder, which could only come to fruition if they sent a rotation piece the other way.
Brodie understood this going back to last year when he signed Jacob deGrom to an affordable contract and dealt for Marcus Stroman—knowing the starting pitching market was beginning to soar to the heavens. From a bullpen perspective, he readily understood that it’s likely Diaz and Familia would bounce-back, but refused to rely on such a thought.
He also knew Beltran could be really helpful in the recruiting of Betances when the Yankees’ attention turned to Gerrit Cole. Here’s another reality check: Brodie was trying to get a taker for Jed Lowrie’s contract by feverishly trying to put deals together. But once Yoenis Cespedes’s contract revisions were negotiated, it became less of a need to find budget spots to add Betances. He also added two pitchers in Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, both of which allowed him to add rotation depth at an affordable price.
The four needs the Mets had going into offseason, in no particular order: revamp the bullpen, add starting pitcher depth, snag a backup catcher and improve overall defense with a reliable center fielder. Those pitching needs have been crossed off the list and he did add a capable—if not spectacular—center fielder, leaving backup catcher as the next item he will be shopping for as we approach the New Year.
All I heard about Brodie when he was hired were the reasons it would not work, citing notions that a former agent could not perform in this arena. But Brodie has proven that is utter nonsense, as his ability to analyze the marktplace and react accordingly has been a huge positive and one, quite frankly, most teams in the sport do not possess.
I look at the Met roster and I see the best pitcher in baseball in deGrom, the best set-up guy in Betances (if healthy), baseball’s premier power threat in Pete Alonso and a potential batting champion in Jeff McNeil. Thats a pretty good core group and I haven’t even mentioned yet names like Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario or Wilson Ramos—all of whom were heavy contributors a season ago. Let’s also not forget about Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, who form a great trio behind the ace, with names like Wacha, Porcello and Lugo in the mix.
And trust me, Brodie is not done yet. He knows this NL East is a tough division and it will be tough sledding to an NL East title. As we’ve gone through the offseason, I’ve heard the Met detractors pointing to the “come and get us” quote, and thats OK. But I really believe the only thing wrong with that quote is that it might have come 12 months too soon.
It may serve as an extremely appropriate narrative as we inch closer to the 2020 baseball season.