2019 MLB Season: Rating the NL East general managers

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Mike Rizzo, general manager and president of baseball operations of the Washington Nationals spays champagne in celebration of the Wild Card game win against the Milwaukee Brewers on October 1, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Mike Rizzo, general manager and president of baseball operations of the Washington Nationals spays champagne in celebration of the Wild Card game win against the Milwaukee Brewers on October 1, 2019, at Nationals Park, in Washington D.C. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

2019 MLB Season: The NL East’s best GM

Brody Van Wagenen, New York Mets

The 2019 MLB season was Van Wagenen’s debut season as the Mets general manager displayed noteworthy strengths and exploitable weaknesses.

It’s tempting to dismiss the strengths in two words: Pete Alonso. Yes, critics might argue, Van Wagenen had the wisdom to call him up to the majors, but that’s a Captain Obvious-level decision, so what of it?

Although inarguable, that dismissal is a bit unfair to Van Wagenen, who also less obviously showed a fine eye for assessing talent that may or may not be worth keeping.  During the course of his first general managerial season, Van Wagenen sold or traded six Mets who saw major league service for their new teams. Five of those six experienced down seasons for those new teams.

Part of any team’s success lies in knowing when to cut ties with a player. Van Wagenen appears to know when it’s time to say good-bye.

He also had the good sense to get ace Jacob deGrom to agree to an extension through 2023, which deGrom repaid with another Cy Young-worthy season. His 11-8, 2.43 ERA in 32 starts translated to +5.6 WAA.

Van Wagenen was measurably less successful in actually extracting talent for the Mets in exchange for the departing players. For an executive with a reputation as a deal-maker, it was a problematic failure. The December acquisition of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from Seattle in exchange for five second-tier players was heralded at the time as sheer genius. Cano was supposed to stabilize New York’s infield, while Diaz was the perceived closer the team had needed.

In retrospect, the deal more nearly amounted to an exchange of full garbage cans. Cano batted .256 with little power while Diaz blew several late-season, mission-critical saves. Based on cumulative impact, their presence cost the Mets two games in the standings. The Mets fell three games short of the second wild card, so while the deal didn’t turn out to be a poison pill, it was also hardly less than a vitamin.

Short-term acquisitions: -4.1

Short-term trade losses: +2.5

Short-term free agent signings: +3.3

Short-term free agent losses: -1.5

Short-term rookie production: +0.8

Short-term total: +1.0