While the baseball world awaits the potential landscape-changing decisions of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is laying down the gauntlet to the rest of the National League East.
“Our goal is to win a championship and it starts with the division,” the confident GM said during Wednesday’s introduction of free agent Jed Lowrie. “So come get us.”
The former agent turned new Mets GM has spent the majority of his first offseason touting what will undoubtedly be an improved roster. After acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in a trade with the Seattle Mariners, and then signing free agent catcher Wilson Ramos, Van Wagenen quickly made the argument that the Mets were the team to beat in the NL East.
That was in December. In January, he’s doubling down.
“If I thought we could contend the last time that question was asked to me, I haven’t softened my approach,” the former agent said Wednesday. “I think we are a good team, I think we are a complete team, I think we are a balanced team, I think we’ve got veterans, we’ve got youth, we’ve got a hunger and desire to win and I look forward to showing people we’re a team to be reckoned with.”
“Let’s not be shy about wanting to be the best and I fully expect us to be competitive and be a winning team.”
With the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves all predicted to be in the 83-88 win range, they see the Mets as firmly in the mix for a division title. Perhaps that changes when Harper and Machado make their decisions. Harper back to Washington or either player to Philadelphia would be an impactful move, but who’s to say Van Wagenen’s work is done?
The Mets GM has quickly earned the “wheeler and dealer” label. Perhaps not to the extent of Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto, but he’s certainly setting an aggressive pace. Lowrie’s addition makes 21 new players in the organization already, which is more than previous GM Sandy Alderson had by mid-January over the last three offseasons combined.
Perhaps more notable than that, though, is the mindset Van Wagenen operates with and the confidence he exudes. This might be a foreign term to those walking the halls of Citi Field, but we’d dare call the feeling that now emanates from deep within as a new found “swagger.” It’s clear he’s trying to do more than better a roster. He’s trying to change a culture that hasn’t been healthy on any front for over three years.
How much that swagger matters — and how far the Mets’ near $200 million spending spree this winter will take them now, and in the future — is still to be determined. What we’ve learned for sure is that Van Wagenen is fine with making headlines that put a target on his team’s back, because he fully intends to back his words up.
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