“I want them to be involved,” Van Wagenen said. “The truth of the matter is, if they’re not, that’s bad ownership.”
Wilpon first broached the idea of Van Wagenen as a possible general manager soon after Alderson left. Based on his friendship with Van Wagenen, Wilpon asked him for candidates, and the conversation soon flipped to Wilpon’s suggesting that Van Wagenen should try for the job himself. After some reticence because of fear the move could upset his clients, Van Wagenen came around.
Van Wagenen said his past clients were supportive. Concerns were raised by the players’ union and rival agents about conflicts of interest and the sharing of players’ private information, but Wilpon and Van Wagenen said had they discussed the situation with the commissioner’s office and with Tony Clark, the head of the players’ union.
Wilpon said conflict of interest provisions were placed in Van Wagenen’s contract. He also said Van Wagenen, who as an agent suggested that the Mets trade deGrom if they would not give him a contract extension, would recuse himself from any future negotiations with past clients such as deGrom.
“He’ll have to set an overall tone for the organization, which way he wants us to go, and we’ll have to have some others be responsible for doing the actual contract right now,” Wilpon said.
Van Wagenen said that he had divested his entire stake in his agency, Creative Artists Agency, and that “any contracts past, present or future will continue to go to C.A.A.”
As far as the direction of the team, Wilpon reiterated that he wanted the Mets to contend in 2019. Van Wagenen said he believed this “team needs to build, not rebuild,” but did not articulate a clear plan on how to improve the major league team, which has holes in the bullpen and the everyday lineup. He said he thought the Mets had a solid foundation of starting pitching and young players.
“I feel players should be celebrated,” Van Wagenen said. “I believe they should be a focal point of any good organization. Make no mistake, I intend for players to be the priority of this franchise going forward.”