The Mets’ search for a general manager is down to three finalists, a source said Monday: up-and-coming Rays executive Chaim Bloom, former Rangers/Brewers boss Doug Melvin and agent Brodie Van Wagenen.
Van Wagenen, 44, an outside-the-box entrant because he is an agent who counts Mets ace Jacob deGrom among his clients, interviewed Monday with principal owner Fred Wilpon, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and other Mets executives.
Second-round interviews are expected to continue Tuesday, with the Mets planning to make each candidate available to the media as part of the process.
Van Wagenen opted not to participate in a conference call with reporters because he didn’t want to compromise his role as co-head of CAA’s baseball division, which counts deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas and Tim Tebow among its clients. In July, VanWagenen made news by suggesting the Mets sign deGrom to a contract extension or look to trade him.
“I have regular dialogue with all 30 teams. These conversations share a central theme; how can I help make the team better?” Van Wagenen said, in part, in a statement issued by the Mets. “My conversations with the Mets continue to be organic. I believe baseball is better when the Mets are competitive and successful. That success is better for the fans, players, and the economy of the sport.
“As Jeff and Fred continue their search for a new head of baseball operations, the players, fans and entire organization will be motivated to have a leader with the skills and commitment to win. If the Wilpons believe I am that person, we will have that conversation.”
For a field of three, the Mets’ finalists are awfully diverse.
Bloom, 35, best fits the mold of what most teams have sought in recent years when hiring a new head of baseball operations: a young, Ivy League-educated (Yale) option with an analytics bent. As the Rays’ senior vice president of baseball operations, Bloom is the co-leader on the baseball side for Tampa Bay, working alongside Erik Neander. Bloom, a Philadelphia native, has been with the Rays for 14 seasons, getting his start in the minor-league/player-development realm, though he has experience in every aspect of baseball operations.
Melvin, 66, spent a combined two decades as GM of the Rangers (1994-2001) and Brewers (2002-15). A former minor-league pitcher, Melvin climbed his way up the scouting ladder after his final season as a player, 1978. At the end of the 2015 season, the Brewers moved Melvin into a “senior adviser” role in which he supported GM David Stearns and his staff. In three seasons since, Milwaukee’s analytics-focused front office rebuilt the team that reached Game 7 of the NLCS this past weekend.
Although he has an old-school background, one source familiar with Melvin’s recent work described him as “open-minded” to the important role big data plays in modern-day baseball decision-making. In a recent interview with the sports website Fancred, Melvin toed that line, saying, “The team that succeeds is a team that’s going to blend scouting and development and analytics together.”
During the past couple of weeks, Jeff Wilpon and assistant GM John Ricco, who was not a candidate, completed initial interviews. Among those who did not get a second interview: Kim Ng, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations; Gary LaRocque, the Cardinals’ director of player development, and Dave Littlefield, a former Pirates GM.
Friday marks four months since the Mets knew they would need a GM, when Sandy Alderson stepped away because of cancer.