A once-vast field of Mets general manager candidates is down to a final two, a source said: Rays executive Chaim Bloom and agent Brodie Van Wagenen.
The Mets informed the third finalist, Doug Melvin, on Thursday that he no longer is under consideration, a day after principal owner Fred Wilpon and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon completed second interviews with the trio.
The Mets don’t expect to make a decision until early next week. MLB frowns upon teams making news during the World Series, and the Red Sox and Dodgers are scheduled to play Friday, Saturday and — unless Boston sweeps — Sunday before a day off on Monday.
By whittling their choices to two, the Mets are one step closer to finishing a long search process. Friday marks four months since former GM Sandy Alderson stepped away because of cancer and indicated he would not return to the job.
Van Wagenen, who interviewed Monday, and Bloom, who went in Wednesday, are very different candidates.
As the co-head of CAA’s baseball division, Van Wagenen, 44, represents several prominent Mets, including Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard and Todd Frazier (plus minor-leaguer Tim Tebow). By moving to the Mets’ front office, Van Wagenen would risk putting himself and his clients — who could stick with CAA under a new agent or find new reps — in a weird position.
In July, Van Wagenen strongly suggested that the Mets sign deGrom to an extension or seek to trade him. If the Mets hire him as GM, he would be tasked with negotiating that extension on behalf of the team.
Hiring an agent to run baseball operations would be an unusual — but not unheard of — move. In 2014, the Diamondbacks picked Dave Stewart, a player-turned-agent, to serve as GM under chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. That setup lasted for two seasons.
Bloom, Tampa Bay’s senior vice president of baseball operations, would be a far more traditional hire through the lens of modern baseball. He is young (35), is an Ivy Leaguer (Yale) and has an analytical bent, in line with what most teams have done in recent years when hiring a GM.
A Philadelphia native, Bloom has been with the Rays for 14 seasons, including 2018, when they surprised the baseball world by going 90-72 — in the same division as the juggernaut Red Sox and Yankees — with a relatively small payroll.
Bloom got his start on the minor-league/player development side, though he has experience in every aspect of baseball operations.
The Mets had hoped each finalist would participate in a conference call with local reporters as part of the interview process, but only Melvin completed that step. Van Wagenen and Bloom declined out of respect for their current jobs, instead issuing statements through the team.
“We had a productive meeting [Wednesday],” Bloom said Thursday. “There was a lot of baseball conversation and I enjoyed the time we spent together.”
In saying no thanks to Melvin, 66, who was the baseball operations boss for the Rangers (1994-2001) and Brewers (2002-15), the Mets passed on a track record of prolonged mediocrity. Melvin’s teams made the playoffs five times in 20 seasons but advanced to the League Championship Series only once.
Melvin’s elimination was considered a surprise by many because he had the most traditional baseball background, as a former minor-league pitcher who climbed the scouting ranks and had nearly 40 years of front-office experience. He has been a senior adviser for the Brewers since the end of the 2015 season, when he transitioned out of the GM job and said, “The job has grown to the point that it’s probably suited to somebody younger than me.”
This week, Melvin said he no longer feels that way and is eager to get back in the game.