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How Brodie Van Wagenen Damaged Mets Rotation

When looking at the Robinson Cano trade, the main focus has been on Edwin Diaz‘s struggles as well as the loss of Jarred Kelenic. Lost in that is just how much this trade has impacted the Mets starting rotation, which has been the strength of this team.

This offseason, the Mets have already lost Zack Wheeler to the rival Philadelphia Phillies. Wheeler desperately wanted to stay a Met, but he was not offered a contract to stay with the Mets despite giving the team the last chance to sign him. That decision was made all the more damning when you consider Wheeler was not taking the largest contract offered to him, and the $118 million deal he accepted was really less than he was worth.

Realistically speaking, the Mets passed on Wheeler because the team is estimated to be roughly $17 million under the competitive balance tax threshold, and indications are the team will be unwilling to raise their budget to those heights. Signing Wheeler would have required them to go over that threshold. Of course, the Mets would have more money to spend if they were not paying Cano $20.25 million per year. Had the trade not transpired, the Mets could have just reallocated that money to Wheeler.

With this being the Mets, the team let Wheeler walk in free agency because the team does not typically like to invest that much money in free agency. Had the Cano trade not transpired, the Mets could have looked to have Justin Dunn replace him in the rotation.

In fact, Dunn made his Major League debut with the Mariners last year. In his four starts, he held his own going 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP. The Mariners had him on a very limited pitch count, so really this served nothing more than to get his feet wet and show he could potentially be a part of the 2020 rotation. Arguably, Dunn did that.

In addition to Dunn, there was Anthony Kay, who was traded along with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. As noted by Andy Martino of SNY, one of the reasons the Mets obtained Stroman was to prepare for the eventuality of Wheeler departing in free agency.

There’s some problems with that rationale. First and foremost, Stroman isn’t really a replacement for Wheeler when both were in the same rotation last year. The other issue is Stroman is a free agent after the 2020 season, which just delays the problem by a year.

Looking towards 2021, both Dunn and Kay should be established Major League starters. Like Dunn, Kay would make his debut last year, and like Dunn, he would really show he could be a part of a 2020 rotation with his allowing two runs or fewer in two of his three starts.

Ideally, the Mets could have had both Kay and Dunn in the rotation with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz in 2021. That could have proven to be a formidable rotation, and going back to the Cano trade, Kelenic would have been primed to make his Major League debut playing in the outfield between Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto while also appearing in a lineup with Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.

However, by 2021, the Mets will likely have a rotation without Wheeler, Stroman, Dunn, and Kay. They will also be in a similar position to where they are now looking for a way to replace Syndergaard and Matz in the rotation. Sadly, while we all focus on Kelenic, and justifiably so, the real ramifications of the Cano trade will be the impact on the Mets rotation.

The only hope we have at the moment is Steve Cohen’s purchase of the team will allow him to keep this core together and build off of it in free agency. Of course, with Van Wagenen remaining the General Manager, the Wilpons staying in charge for five years, and with the team still on an austerity plan at the moment, the hopes seem to be further out than the near distant future. As such, all that Van Wagenen has wrought is still a significant issue.

16 thoughts on “How Brodie Van Wagenen Damaged Mets Rotation”

  1. Oldbackstop says:

    The trade was about cheap-for-years league leading closer Diaz and keeping him from competitors and avoiding a huge contract for a competent FA closer.

    We also shed Bruce and Swarzak, who had decent seasons, but significant salaries. With Bruce clogging up corner OF for Conforto or McNeil or JD or Nimmo (or 1B for Alonso).

    No competitive team would be counting on Dunn or Kay in the 2020 rotation, even as a 5. We would still need an FA or a major trade for 2020.

    Kelenic and Dunn and Kay…..you always sound like you are trying to win a AAA championship in two years.

    You make it sound like the Mets dumped Wheeler like a fat girlfriend. My memory is they talked early in the season and the Mets thought Wheeler wasn’t worth what his people were looking for. . We will see. He is a talented guy that couldn’t answer the bell for many years.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      So, if I understand. You want to finish in third with no hope for the future?

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Yes, I want to finish third with no hope for the future. My, you are a great debater.

        Does Cohen give you hope for the future?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You’re arguing that’s what you want.

  2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Another way to put it is, not including deGrom’s extension, van Wagenen gave up around one-quarter of one billion dollars ($250,000,000.00) in minor league talent and future salary commitments during the 2018-2019 offseason in order to add, get this, 0 bWAR to the 2019 team. The Cano fiasco was the centerpiece of that carnage.

    The money figure changes a little depending on how you count the average expected value of this or that minor leaguer, but for any accounting even the phrase “catastrophic failure” doesn’t cover the extent of the disaster Wags has wrought. If Cohen does take over the Mets, given his background, it’s hard to believe Wags won’t be out the door in short order. With their lack of anyone in the upper levels, at expected payroll 2019-2021 was the Mets window, with at least 2022-23 being their 72-win seasons. With Cohen probably in and Wags surely out, that’s no longer necessarily the case.

    “As noted by Andy Martino of SNY, one of the reasons the Mets obtained Stroman was to prepare for the eventuality of Wheeler departing in free agency. There’s some problems with that rationale. First and foremost, Stroman isn’t really a replacement for Wheeler when both were in the same rotation last year.”

    —Any number of us correctly took the deal this way. The Mets were never extending Wheeler after 2018 (more fools they, particularly given what he would have cost prior to the 2018-2019 offseason, with figures like 3/30m being talked about at the 2018 ASB as on the reckless side). That there was overlap in the replacement scenario was a feature of the deal from the FO’s pov, not a bug. It just gave them an additional couple of months of Stroman and an improved chance of ‘meaningful games’ in August 2019 for a team that had been sub.-500 most of the year. As for the move just kicking the can down the road, for the last decade that has been ownership’s MO.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Anyone who took Stroman replacing Wheeler accepted a false bill of goods.

    2. Oldbackstop says:

      Brodie said this week:

      “The value for what we thought the investment [was] didn’t line up,” he said. “The projections that we had for Zack both short-term and long-term didn’t quite match up to the market he was able to enjoy.”

      So…there it is. Brodie is getting hammered for deals that can not be declared winners or losers for some years….Cano, Diaz, Kelenic, Dunn, Kay. The opinions on all those guys could be 180 degrees by next winter.

      This is all more complex than this blog usually acknowledges. If you sign Zack who DON’T you sign?

      With Cohen coming down the pike, we can get top youth by taking them along with big lousy contracts. The guy bought a crappy 141 million dollar sculpture a few years ago (before he got really rich.)

      I like Zack, but we traded Carlos Beltran straight up for him….howoff season. And how many starts did we get? I can understand why the Mets wouldn’t want to make him the Big Contract of the offseason.

      I think both Diaz and Cano will have much better seasons next year, and the deal could look dramatically different in two years.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Why are we trusting Brodie’s decision making process on Wheeler when he couldn’t have been more wrong on Cano, Diaz, Dunn, and Kelenic?

        1. Oldbackstop says:

          You don’t know if he was wrong on any of those guys, you just repeatedly aggressively assert it until you believe yourself

          None of this was going to be measured in one 162 game chunk.

          And Brodie doesn’t make these decisions in his bathtub contemplating his navel. There is a whole corporate team that watched Wheeler one the most talented disaster of the decade until about 18 months ago. Ya think the Wilpon’s didnt have an opinion? Probably Cohen did too, he didn’t appear out the other last week, he has beena minority owner.

          You just enjoy demonizing Brodie. Sometimes deals look bad the first year and get better, sometimes they look great for a year and get horrible (Cespedes)

          You aren’t comparing having Wheeler at that money versus having no one. You are comparing having Zack with the entire universe of pitchers available by trade at that contract height, or by FA. Just the way that for every Kelenic from our system there may be a JD Davis from someone else’s….

          1. metsdaddy says:

            I’m properly assessing the terrible job BVW has done.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    Remembering saying this MD?

    “”That was made further evident by the Mets trading three good prospects in Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana to get a worse hitting version of Flores in J.D. Davis.””

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I did and still stand by it.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Compared to the history of the moronic statements you have recanted? You have stood by more garbage than Johnny Cochran.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It’s funny you go there despite how many times I’m right leading to you to try to move the goalposts

  4. Oldbackstop says:

    Your dislike of JD has lost you all credibility. At his HR ratio he would have had 38 HRs given the same ABs Alonso had. He batted .307, 47 points higher. And seeing as he has played five major league positions including third he would be a FAR better first baseman than Alonso, whose numbers were lousy, despite Keith’s fawning.

    I would love to see what we could get for Alonso in trade.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Yes, I don’t have credibility because I don’t but defensive numbers making him the worst defensive player in the NL and historically unrepeatable stats, but apparently you do by making wild assertions like JD is better than Alonso.

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