Brodie Van Wagenen’s Tricky Transition From Agent to G.M.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — After 17 years as a profitable participant agent, Brodie Van Wagenen is not any stranger to the overall managers’ conferences. However this week, because the Mets’ new G.M., he discovered himself on the alternative aspect of the annual gathering — attending league conferences, receiving pitches from brokers and brainstorming commerce potentialities with rival groups.

“It’s been enjoyable,” he stated, including later, “Among the membership officers that I’ve achieved a good quantity of enterprise with prior to now, these conversations have been heat, and there’s been some humor and laughter with the position reversal.”

There are additionally loads of lingering questions in regards to the unorthodox job transition. How will Van Wagenen, 44, be obtained by each different basic managers and former rival brokers — a few of whom have criticized the hiring? How will his historical past with many baseball executives have an effect on his new position as considered one of their friends?

There may be an inherent, skilled wariness between brokers and basic managers as they negotiate participant offers with opposing targets. And amongst brokers, there’s usually intense jockeying to characterize the identical gamers.

“He’s in a troublesome spot,” stated Dave Dombrowski, the Boston Purple Sox’ president of baseball operations. “He’s acquired rather a lot to be taught and he’s acquired rather a lot on his plate. It’s incumbent on him to do this and I believe he’ll.”

Van Wagenen doesn’t have a whole lot of time for a studying curve. The Mets, whose final successful season was in 2016, have set a playoff berth as their objective for 2019, they usually have evident holes of their lineup, protection and bullpen. As he goes about his new tasks, buying and selling with different G.M.’s and signing brokers’ purchasers, Van Wagenen’s latest former life as a participant agent will likely be an ever-present added layer to the negotiations.

He started making the rounds this week, assembly with many brokers to speak about present Mets gamers and free brokers, and chatted with a lot of the different 29 main league groups.

Among the many few baseball brokers which have made the soar to turning into a group govt, the outcomes have been blended. Dave Stewart, who switched from agent to Arizona Diamondbacks’ basic supervisor from 2014 to 2016, has stated an early hurdle was gaining the belief and acceptance of fellow basic managers. Stewart not less than had some earlier expertise as an assistant G.M.; Van Wagenen is the one govt in latest reminiscence to go straight from being an agent to a G.M. with no previous front-office expertise.

Seth Levinson, who leads the ACES company together with his brother and has represented many Mets gamers, together with David Wright, stated his assembly with Van Wagenen on Tuesday went seamlessly and gamesmanship was absent.

“The power to see the world by the eyes of your adversary is a essential ability to being profitable on this trade,” Levinson stated, including later, “Provided that we’re on reverse sides of the aisle, it is going to definitely be fascinating going ahead. Right here’s slightly secret: Not all brokers dislike and mistrust different brokers. There are a lot of brokers who respect the work of their colleagues and preserve productive relationships.”

Thad Levine, the Minnesota Twins’ basic supervisor, added: “There’s extra camaraderie on this trade than there as soon as was. You see all of the G.M.’s are collectively, there’s some collegial part and all of us compete.”

However will different basic managers be further cautious negotiating with a former agent?

“A number of is perhaps slightly cautious on the entrance finish, however I believe they’re going to respect him instantly as soon as they spend time with him,” Levine stated, including later: “He’s going to have an opportunity to develop a popularity on this aspect, and that’s why everyone seems to be prepared to present him a clear slate to begin.”

Some G.M.’s could also be leery of what inside info Van Wagenen has if he, say, gives a Met who’s a former consumer of his in a commerce.

Scott Boras, a outstanding agent in baseball, expressed issues about potential conflicts of curiosity for Van Wagenen in his new position with the Mets.CreditMichael Owen Baker/Related Press

Brian Cashman of the Yankees, Jerry Dipoto of the Seattle Mariners and Levine, amongst others, spoke extremely of Van Wagenen’s conduct in earlier dealings as an agent, together with his transparency, and didn’t foresee a lot altering of their future relationship.

Mike Rizzo, the Washington Nationals’ basic supervisor who has labored with Van Wagenen prior to now, stated he wouldn’t harbor arduous emotions towards an agent who negotiated a cope with a participant who later didn’t pan out.

“He’s doing his job properly if he’s promoting me a foul participant and I paid some huge cash,” Rizzo stated. “The one means I’d be upset with him is that if he lied to me about one thing, and he by no means did.”

The truth is, his expertise as an agent may even show to be an asset. Van Wagenen, who was one of many heads of baseball for the highly effective Artistic Artists Company earlier than becoming a member of the Mets, stated he hoped that the credibility he constructed with basic managers through the years will carry over into his new position.

“I’m not saying I at all times agreed with him, however it’ll be as much as him to indicate that he’s trustworthy and honest, and I believe he’ll,” stated Dombrowski, who additionally labored usually with Van Wagenen when he was an agent.

Probably the most outspoken critic of hiring an agent as a basic supervisor has been Scott Boras, a outstanding agent. Boras is, after all, searching for his personal enterprise, however he has raised questions on intimate info gamers share with their brokers that now may fall into the arms of a entrance workplace. The gamers’ union voiced comparable issues when Van Wagenen was employed.

Requested if he would chorus from negotiating with the Mets, Boras stated, “My job is to be a fiduciary for my purchasers and I’ll negotiate with anybody at anytime if my purchasers so want me to take action. I don’t let my private philosophies intrude with any of that.”

Privately, some brokers have shared reservations about different intently held info, like wage arbitration figures, that might unfold again to Van Wagenen’s former company, in addition to issues about favoritism involving previous purchasers. The brokers requested anonymity to precise issues that might have an effect on future negotiations.

Van Wagenen has taken steps to handle a few of these points and to remain in keeping with baseball’s guidelines. He divested from his former company, and the Mets stated that battle of curiosity provisions have been positioned in his contract and that he would recuse himself from instantly negotiating with former purchasers, which embody the Mets’ star pitcher Jacob deGrom, for whom Van Wagenen publicly advocated a contract extension earlier this yr.

Requested about Boras’s criticism, Van Wagenen stated Boras was entitled to his opinions. Van Wagenen insisted he saved his former purchasers up to date about his standing throughout his hiring course of with the Mets — one other moral concern raised by some brokers.

“I reject the notion that I’m going to be in a battle of curiosity now or that I’m going to compromise my very own popularity, previous conduct and my very own integrity,” Van Wagenen stated.

On Wednesday afternoon, Boras stated he had by no means talked to Van Wagenen earlier than and even listed a number of Mets officers he would discuss to, conspicuously leaving out Van Wagenen. Quickly after, Van Wagenen and Boras held a scheduled assembly, which Van Wagenen referred to as productive.

“We launched ourselves to one another,” Van Wagenen deadpanned.

So far as coping with former rival brokers normally, Van Wagenen famous that he was not a risk to them as direct competitors. Some brokers stated Van Wagenen’s previous expertise may even perhaps be useful in dealings since his previous job was searching for gamers.

“My objective is to attempt to make the Mets as productive and profitable as doable,” Van Wagenen stated. “And hopefully the brokers are it when it comes to what’s of their gamers’ greatest pursuits. If we will discover a assembly of the minds, then I’m assured we will do this.”

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