December 19, 2018

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Brodie Van Wagenen Arrives at G.M. Meetings With Reversed Role

Brodie Van Wagenen Arrives at G.M. Meetings With Reversed Role
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CARLSBAD, Calif. — If there was a clue as to how this year’s general managers’ meeting might be different for Brodie Van Wagenen, the newly christened general manager of the Mets, it was in the manila folder he carried in his right hand. It was labeled: “agents/free agents.”

Van Wagenen, a prominent player agent before being hired by the Mets, arrived here on Monday not to lay the groundwork for big-money contracts for clients but to start the work of reshaping one team, the Mets, over the winter.

In his first week on the job, Van Wagenen met over two days with Manager Mickey Callaway, spent the weekend visiting with prospects and top scouts in Arizona, and began reconfiguring the front office and field staff.

This week’s meetings, which begin Tuesday and conclude Thursday morning, give general managers a chance to begin talks with player agents and other G.M.s to discuss free-agent contracts and trades.

But those are not the only matters on Van Wagenen’s plate.

The Mets need a new bench coach, hitting coach and bullpen coach. They shifted their previous bench coach, Gary DiSarcina, to third base; moved Glenn Sherlock from third to first; and gave the previous first-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. — the former Philadelphia general manager — a new position assisting Van Wagenen. The hitting coach Pat Roessler and the bullpen coach Ricky Bones were dismissed.

Amaro Jr. will join the Mets’ three other assistant general managers — Omar Minaya, John Ricco and J. P. Ricciardi — who are remaining in their positions, at least for now. Minaya, Ricco and Ricciardi are also attending the meetings.

“At this point, we want to identify where our greatest needs are and make sure we’re putting our best people in that position,” Van Wagenen said during a 10-minute conversation with reporters.

The need for an experienced bench coach became apparent in May when Callaway, in his first season as a manager, filled out his scorecard incorrectly, prompting the Mets to bat out of order. The mistake incurred a one-out penalty in a narrow loss.

“Having someone that is an experienced bench coach that can help him with in-game management, we thought, would be a win for Mickey and help him with his development,” Van Wagenen said.

While Van Wagenen was vague about the Mets’ plans to upgrade the offense and defense, he did make a point of saying that the first base prospect Peter Alonso figures in them somewhere.

Alonso, who hit 36 homers between Class AA and Class AAA last season, was frustrated not to be called up by the Mets in September. Van Wagenen said the young slugger would be given an opportunity to make the team in spring training. They met for dinner Saturday night after Alonso homered and walked twice in an Arizona Fall League All-Star Game.

“I wanted to be able to show him the respect and give him the understanding that he’s a priority to this organization, he’s a priority to me,” Van Wagenen said.

INSIDE PITCH

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman reiterated his intent to trade Sonny Gray, who has struggled to pitch up his previous All-Star form since the Yankees acquired him from Oakland before the 2017 nonwaiver trade deadline. Cashman said that he and Gray, who is 15-16 with a 4.51 E.R.A. as a Yankee, have had conversations about how he might bounce back, but that Gray never asked for a trade. Asked if watching how Boston’s David Price broke out of his career-long playoff funk this season might have led him to reconsider trading Gray, Cashman said: “The great thing about the game is people always have a chance to change the narrative, but I’m not going to wait to see if that’s possible. I recognize that we’ve had a year and a half of the same result, so I’m not going to take it another year and expect something different.”



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