With Sandy Alderson returning to the Mets and taking on the role of team president, pending the approval of prospective owner Steve Cohen, it's fair to believe that the styles of Alderson and Cohen would mesh well, with the hope that on-field success follows.
What would the philosophy be under a Cohen/Alderson/potentially TBD general manager regime when it comes to their approach to the free agent market, the potential of extensions for homegrown players, and the level of aggression when considering trades for relatively high-priced talent?
Before looking at the future, let's take a trip to the past...
Alderson, 72, began his first stint with the Mets after the 2010 season and remained until June of 2018, when he stepped down while battling a recurrence of cancer.
Starting with how he built the 2011 team, Alderson -- much like Frank Cashen in the 1980s -- was methodical while overseeing a four-year rebuild. He drafted smartly, held key prospects tight, and didn't hand out any big free agent deals (save for a massive extension to David Wright).
Even when the Mets began to contend, starting with the 2015 season, the Alderson-led Mets never really became "Moneyball with Money," as had been the initial expectation.
Part of the above had to do with a seeming reluctance of ownership to give out contracts of more than four years to players who weren't already on the Mets. Recent exceptions to that rule were Carlos Beltran in 2004 and Johan Santana in 2008. But the refusal to go beyond four years meant the Mets usually couldn't play in the superstar-in-his-prime market.
Instead, Alderson's biggest deals went to Curtis Granderson (a four-year contract after the 2013 season) and twice to Yoenis Cespedes (who was signed after the 2015 season and again after opting out following the 2016 campaign).
Throughout his tenure, Alderson was measured with his words and his moves. But behind that demeanor was the fact that Alderson -- as he has said himself -- likes flash. And he believes in his teams being not just good, but entertaining -- as was the case with the Bash Brothers in Oakland.
Because Alderson would now be overseeing a win-now team controlled by a man worth roughly $14 billion dollars, the expectation should be that his stewardship of the Mets this time around would be different.
There is also the fact that the Mets, pending arbitration raises that will add a solid amount to the payroll this offseason, have only $76 million committed to the 2021 payroll when it comes to luxury tax purposes.
And two of the biggest pending free agents -- J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer -- would just happen to fill two of the Mets' biggest needs. There's also the possibility that the Colorado Rockies could trade Nolan Arenado, who would fit quite nicely at third base in Queens.
This is not to say that the Mets will land all three of those players or even one of them. But the ability to be perennially in play for superstars is now there, and it's fair to believe that Cohen -- whose controlled aggression should be a good match with Alderson -- would not hesitate to do what it takes to land the biggest free agents. And what it ordinarily takes is contracts longer than four years.
Aside from the free agent market, the Mets also have two incredibly important homegrown players -- Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard -- who are set to hit free agency after the 2021 season. Perhaps Cohen and Alderson could look to take care of their own first.
Beyond the question of how a Mets team owned by Cohen and led by Alderson would act on the free agent market, when it comes to extensions, and on the trade market is what kind of draft strategy they'll have (Van Wagenen's, to his credit, has been aggressive and successful) and who the GM might be.
Alderson's drafting was largely terrific, netting the Mets players such as Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Coforto, though there were some misses on safer picks (such as Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki). To that end, a more aggressive drafting strategy like the one Van Wagenen has employed could make sense.
As far as GM goes, Van Wagenen could return, it could be a Mets lifer such as John Ricco, or even someone like Paul DePodesta. There's also of course a chance it could be one of the many highly-qualified men or women currently serving in the baseball operations department of another team.
What seems clear, though, is that this time around would be different for Alderson. Instead of a rebuild, it's win-now. And if you mix his desire for flash with Cohen's competitive streak, things could be about to get very interesting in Flushing.