It has been an interesting 24 hours in the New York Mets’ quest for a new General Manager. The situation surrounding the search for Sandy Alderson’s successor took a dramatic turn last night, when FanCred’s Jon Heyman reported that presumed favorite Doug Melvin was out of the running for the job, leaving only agent Brodie Van Wagenen and Tampa Bay Rays’ executive Chaim Bloom in the mix. Melvin had fit the profile of Fred Wilpon’s preferred executive, a baseball lifer with a background in scouting and player development, so his elimination came as a shock. That means two unlikely candidates are still in the mix, with SNY’s Andy Martino reporting that Van Wagenen is currently in “very strong position” to get the job according to major league sources.
Martino does note that Bloom, who reportedly interviewed well, is not out of the running yet but that the job appears to be Van Wagenen’s to lose. The Mets are not planning to hire both candidates, so the team will probably take the weekend to make a final decision. Major League Baseball highly discourages franchises from making official announcements on hires on the same day as a World Series game, so the earliest the Mets could publicly reveal their choice is either Sunday (if the Boston Red Sox sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers) or Monday (an off day, which is more likely). Word may leak out if the Mets do have a choice made, but the fact that Van Wagenen may get this job is very interesting.
Van Wagenen would be the second straight outside the box hire the Mets have made following manager Mickey Callaway last fall. The idea of hiring an agent to run a baseball team is a new one, but agents have had success running franchises in other sports. The best example would be the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, who hired agent Bob Myers to serve as an assistant GM before taking over the main position in 2012. Myers helped build the Warriors into the NBA’s latest dynasty, and the Los Angeles Lakers managed to land LeBron James over the summer thanks to the efforts of a front office led by another former agent in Rob Pelinka. While basketball and baseball are different sports, it is clear that there is precedent for the idea to work with the right person. Van Wagenen may well get his chance, and if that’s the case it will be very intriguing to see how he tackles the task of trying to build a winner in Queens.