Brodie Van Wagenen is confident. Or, at the very least, he doesn't see himself as being in the business of rebuilding the Mets. Instead, his goal continues to be to win and, like he said this past winter, win now.
Otherwise, he would have accepted one of the many offers he reportedly received for Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Edwin Diaz.
The plan for this post was to break down the moves or lack of moves made by Wagenen. However, the story of this year's trade deadline is less about what he did and more about what he didn't do...
He didn't trade Wheeler...
Entering today, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Wheeler would begin tonight on another team. There isn't a reporter from New York to Los Angeles that during the past few weeks didn't report on hearing some information about the likelihood of Wheeler eventually being traded. Yet, here we are, game time and Wheeler is still on the Mets, despite him being a free agent at the end of this season.
The Mets will no doubt make a qualifying offer to Wheeler, which means they'll receive draft pick compensation if the pitcher signs with a new team this winter. Van Wagenen can also try to re-sign Wheeler, who is highly unlikely to accept the one-year qualifying offer because he will certainly get multiple, multi-year offers.
Van Wagenen said during his press conference following the deadline that Wheeler means a lot to the organization, and maybe a qualifying offer isn't all they're looking to do.
"We're looking less at a qualifying offer and I think more focused on -- Zack Wheeler matters to us," he said. "We think he's a good pitcher. We have interest in him being a Met for the long-term. How that sorts itself out over his next couple of months and free agency, time will tell. I don't think our decision making was simply a qualifying offer or a prospect return."
And because they didn't trade him, it leads me to today's true realization...
Because he's going for it...
This should have been obvious the minute the Mets traded their top pitching prospect for Marcus Stroman, who is under contract for next season and slots in as the staff's second best pitcher.
From what I can gather out of people close to the clubhouse, key players on the Mets were informed throughout the day that -- unless blown away by trade offers -- no one was going to be dealt because ownership and the front office believe in the current roster's ability to make an end-of-year push for the playoffs.
This may explain Pete Alonso's out-of-nowhere message to Mets fans on Twitter that stated his desire to win, a belief in himself and his teammates, and the need for fans to keep supporting them.
I wrote earlier in the month that, even if the Mets pulled off a miracle and secured the final spot in the Wild Card, their chances are slim that they'll go deep in to the postseason. And at that point, though I'm sure the franchise would benefit from the bump in revenue, it would be more wise to cut bait on Wheeler, Diaz and even Syndergaard if it helped bring in young talent ready to help win now and next season.
It could be those type of deals were never on the table, at which point sticking with the current roster and making a playoff push was basically made for Van Wagenen -- not by him. However, multiple MLB insiders I talked with today all told me it's quite clear Van Wagenen didn't want to trade his most valued assets.
Sure, he would have made any deal if it helped them be better Aug. 1 than today. But that's the point: the goal was to be better for August and September, not 2020.
Why? I can only assume he woke up today with every intention of wanting the best possible team for the rest of this season, be it with Wheeler, Diaz and Syndergaard, or players better than them that could increase the roster's chances of success... today... right now.
Syndergaard and Diaz are here now, but will they be next season?
Diaz now gets the opportunity to keep improving and show he can handle the pressures of late season, high-leverage situations for a team in New York.
We already know Syndergaard can handle New York. He also gets 10-11 more starts to improve his 2019 numbers and continue showing he has a freak pitching arm that refuses to break down. If he can do both, his trade value will escalate and Van Wagenen can again revisit dealing him this winter.
"This was a confusing, scattered market for starting pitchers, more than in previous years," a veteran, rival team source told me. "In a more predictable environment, like the offseason, they'll see better offers for him because Brodie is skilled at roping in more teams to jack up demand."
The same can probably be said for Diaz, who is a young, established closer with a live arm, which is always of value regardless of his so far, up-and-down season.
In the end, what did we learn today?
Van Wagenen has both eyes still on 2019, not 2020 and beyond. Otherwise, he wouldn't have kept players with trade value while, instead, trading in the past nine months four of his top prospects for Robinson Cano, Diaz and Stroman.
It's not how I would have handled things, but thankfully I'm not the GM. Van Wagenen is in that position, he was hired to win and, though the odds are stacked against him, he believes in his players and wants to put on field for us the best show possible.
I may not fully agree with this approach, but I respect it. And, as a fan, I'm looking forward to seeing it play out...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!