AP source: Mets, agent Van Wagenen getting closer to GM deal
NEW YORK (AP) – In a surprising twist to their search for a general manager, the New York Mets were getting closer to completing a deal with high-profile agent Brodie Van Wagenen, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.
The 44-year-old Van Wagenen has been co-head of CAA Baseball since 2010 and emerged as the team’s top choice for GM from a list of 10-12 original candidates. He appears set to switch sides at the bargaining table after representing several Mets stars including Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier.
Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom also was a finalist and remains a possibility, according to the person. An announcement is expected shortly after the World Series – but no sooner than Tuesday.
Doug Melvin also had a second interview with ownership this week, but the former Texas and Milwaukee general manager was told he is no longer in the running.
With the Mets seeking a replacement for Sandy Alderson, the finalists met during the week with owner Fred Wilpon and his son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
Alderson was hired as Mets general manager in October 2010 but took a leave of absence in late June after a recurrence of cancer. He said the team’s poor record did not merit him returning.
Baseball decisions have since been made by the trio of assistant general manager John Ricco and special assistants Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi, all reporting to the Wilpons.
Players and rival agents around the majors have expressed concern about a potential conflict of interest if Van Wagenen flips roles, though the move is not unprecedented. Former big league pitcher Dave Stewart made the switch from agent to front-office executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and a couple of GMs in the NBA did the same.
“In my role as an agent, my solution is to create opportunities for players to be successful both on and off the field,” Van Wagenen said Monday in a statement released by the Mets after his second interview. “My conversations with the Mets continue to be organic. I believe baseball is better when the Mets are competitive and successful.”
Following the team’s second consecutive losing season, Jeff Wilpon has been looking for a progressive thinker from outside the organization to take over as GM. He said he was open to “untraditional candidates,” an approach that has support from his father, and would like to have someone in place by the Nov. 5-8 general managers’ meetings.
Jeff Wilpon also said he would like Ricco, Ricciardi and Minaya to return – but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll be retained.
“As Jeff and Fred continue their search for a new head of baseball operations, the players, fans and entire organization will be motivated to have a leader with the skills and commitment to win,” Van Wagenen said in his statement. “If the Wilpons believe I am that person, we will have that conversation.”
Van Wagenen also represents Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback.
If he takes the GM job, Van Wagenen would need to give up his career as an agent.
Van Wagenen played college baseball at Stanford with current Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch, and the two became good friends.