As is the case for every GM in every major sport, there have been hits and misses for Brodie Van Wagenen during his Mets tenure.
There have been more misses than hits, though, and the high profile nature of some of those misses has created a narrative in certain places that paints his time at the helm as a total failure. It hasn't been.
Has Van Wagenen traded far too many prospects and were some of those controllable pieces dealt in exchange for filler that could've been found on the free agent market or in the Mets' own system? Yep. Did some of Van Wagenen's free agent deals fall on their faces? Yep.
But to judge Van Wagenen fairly, it has to be done with an understanding that he has been working with payroll restrictions that tied his hands at times and likely led him to do some things he wouldn't have done had there been more payroll freedom.
For instance, anyone blaming Van Wagenen for the departure of Zack Wheeler should aim their gaze higher. And anyone bemoaning the Mets' refusal during Van Wagenen's tenure to make serious bids on high-end free agents should do the same.
Van Wagenen has made mistakes -- some of them quite big. But he has also made some very good moves. And when examining his tenure, nuance is needed.
With Van Wagenen's future now in question due to the pending arrival of Sandy Alderson as team president (if Steve Cohen is approved as the new owner), here are Van Wagenen's three best and worst moves as GM of the Mets...
The Three Best
1. Signing Jacob deGrom to an extension
This gets overlooked to the point where you wonder if people even remember that it was Van Wagenen who inked deGrom to a five-year extension worth $137.5 million.
The circumstances surrounding the deal were wild, with Van Wagenen going from being deGrom's agent to Mets GM and getting the extension inked in the same offseason.
It's fair to wonder if another GM, such as Chaim Bloom, would've instead cashed in by trading deGrom (which would've netted the Mets an enormous haul).
2. Trading for J.D. Davis
Before the 2019 season, Van Wagenen dealt minor leaguers Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manaea to the Houston Astros in exchange for Davis and Cody Bohanek.
Before coming to the Mets, Davis had hit .194/.260/.321 in two seasons in Houston.
For the Mets in 2019, Davis hit .307/.369/.527 with 22 homers and 22 doubles in 140 games. He tailed off in 2020 after a hot start, but is clearly a legitimate offensive piece for 2021 and beyond.
3. Aggressive drafting that landed Matthew Allan and J.T. Ginn
Unlike his predecessors, including Sandy Alderson, Van Wagenen and his staff executed back-to-back aggressive MLB Drafts, where the Mets selected high-upside players with their first-round picks and then went after more first-round talent in later rounds.
In 2019, that strategy got the Mets RHP Matthew Allan (ranked as the 13th-best prospect in the draft) in the third round. He had dropped due to signability concerns.
In 2020, the Mets took RHP J.T. Ginn -- another first-round talent -- in the second round.
The Three Worst
1. Including Jarred Kelenic in the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade
This one was indefensible at the time and will remain indefensible no matter how well Kelenic performs with the Seattle Mariners and no matter how valuable Diaz (dominant in 2020) and Cano (very good in 2020) are during their Mets careers.
The simple fact is that there was no reason for the Mets to ever consider, let alone include Kelenic in that deal -- not when they were doing Seattle a favor by eating so much of Cano's contract.
Dealing Kelenic was clearly a bad move at the time, and it has gotten worse since, with him one of the top 15 or so prospects in all of baseball and set for his big league debut in 2021.
2. Signing Jed Lowrie
The signing of Lowrie -- Van Wagenen's former client -- didn't make much sense when it happened before the 2019 season. The Mets were stocked up on infielders and Lowrie was viewed at the time as excess.
While Lowrie was coming off very good back-to-back seasons, the two-year deal seemed wasteful at the time and proved to be a disaster.
Lowrie played in a grand total of nine games during his Mets tenure (including zero in 2020) due to various lower body injuries, including PCL laxity in his knee.
3. Trading Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson for Marcus Stroman*
This one has a big asterisk next to it since the deal is now viewed at through the prism of Stroman's opt-out due to a global pandemic no one could've seen coming.
That Stroman opted out (and didn't pitch a single inning in 2020) was not Van Wagenen's fault. But the outcome was still brutal.
The main reason the trade was bad, though, was because the Mets dealt over a decade of team control (of Kay and Woods Richardson) for what would've been at best a season and two months of Stroman at a time when they weren't serious contenders.