Big doings in the National League East.
The sale of the New York Mets to multi-billionaire Steve Cohen became official on Friday and the new owner wasted no time cleaning out his front office.
Shortly after the sale closed, the Mets announced that general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and three of his front office lieutenants were leaving the organization.
Van Wagenen had been on the job for two years. He had previously been the co-lead baseball agent for CAA, the firm that represents free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Van Wagenen had succeeded Sandy Alderson as Mets GM after Alderson stepped aside for health reasons in 2018. Alderson is now back with the Mets as club president, appointed to that role by Cohen.
Cohen paid $2.4 billion for the Mets. That’s a record for a major league baseball team, topping the Los Angeles Dodgers’ $2 billion price tag in 2012. Cohen owns 95 percent of the club with the previous owner, Fred Wilpon and his family, retaining a 5 percent slice.
Cohen’s ownership was approved 26-4 by major league owners last week. The Phillies were one of the teams that voted to approve Cohen even though he will be a formidable opponent in the NL East for years to come. Cohen is the richest owner in baseball with a worth of $14 billion. He is a lifelong Mets fan and is eager to improve the club and see it compete for a World Series title.
Cohen is expected to announce his presence by being active on the free-agent market this winter. The Mets have a need at catcher and are expected to make a run at Realmuto, who spent the last two seasons with the Phillies and is now a free agent looking to raise the bar on catcher salaries. Last week, Phillies club president Andy MacPhail said the Phillies would make an effort to sign Realmuto this winter after three previous attempts at striking a deal failed.
The Mets are also one of the teams expected to make a run at free-agent outfielder George Springer and they are a potential trade partner with the Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor.
While free-agent spending could be down this winter because of revenues lost during the COVID-impacted 2020 season, it's worth noting that Cohen did not suffer those revenue losses like other owners.
The Mets also need to address their front office. They are expected to do that this offseason in the form of a president of baseball operations who would report to Alderson.
The Mets are the third NL East team to make significant changes in the leadership of their baseball operations this offseason. The Marlins pushed out president of baseball operations Michael Hill and the Phillies stripped Matt Klentak of his GM title and elevated his assistant, Ned Rice, to interim GM. The Phillies have no timetable for naming a new leader of baseball operations. In fact, owner John Middleton is on record as saying Rice could fill the role into the 2021 season and MacPhail echoed those remarks last week.
With the Mets now joining the Phillies, Angels and Marlins in looking for new baseball operations leadership, competition for the right guy only increases.
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