The first responsibility of a talent agent is to establish options in the marketplace, which allows him or her to create leverage against the client's top target. Then, and only then, is it time to strike a deal. In case you forgot, Brodie Van Wagenen was a prominent player agent prior to being hired as GM of the Mets in October.
As GM, I 100 percent believe he hoped to acquire Marlins C J.T. Realmuto. However, I also believe he learned early on that Miami's ask for Realmuto would be significantly more than Van Wagenen was willing to pay. So, instead of turning his back on the Marlins, he continued to engage them, while signaling to reporters and other teams that he was laser focused on trading for what many consider to be the top catcher in baseball.
Meanwhile, according to multiple reports, he met with free agents Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos, after which rumors about the Mets and Marlins and Realmuto reached a fever pitch.
For what it's worth, Van Wagenen's top advisor, Omar Minaya, has long been a big fan of Ramos, and friends in Tampa tell me he pushed for the Mets to acquire early last season after losing both of their catchers to injuries. If I had to guess, I bet he was again pushing for Ramos.
So, imagine it's early December and you are Ramos, who, according to Fancred.com's Jon Heyman, identified the Mets as his desired destination. In Queens, he'd be guaranteed a starting gig, he'd be catching an elite staff with the best pitcher in baseball, and he'd again be in the NL East -- a division where he has spent most of his entire career.
Meanwhile, again pretending you are Ramos, imagine that NL teams are reluctant to sign you because of concerns about health and the likelihood of you remaining at catcher, all while more or less every American League team is set at catcher.
Then, while you may have hoped to get a four- or five-year deal, you agent tells you the team with whom you hoped to sign is pushing hard to acquire Realmuto. What would you do? You swallow your pride, you wish Grandal well, and be the first to lower your rate and take a two-year, $19 million deal from Van Wagenen, who probably wanted to sign you all along.
For what it's worth, by signing Ramos, Van Wagenen doesn't get stuck signing Grandal, who -- because the Dodgers made him a qualifying offer -- would have cost the Mets their second highest draft pick and $500,000 in international signing money.
I wrote here in September that MLB insiders were projecting Ramos would eventually sign a two- to three-year deal, likely paying him roughly $8-12 million each season. These sources obviously read his future the right way, and it appears Van Wagenen's downward pressure on the market made it a reality.
The Mets have sort of, kind of been here before, though...
It was one year ago that all of baseball praised them for striking bargains with Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and other acquisitions. The thing is, there's a big difference between a good deal (like Frazier) and the right deal (like Ramos).
Instead of trading useful talent for Realmuto, the Mets got one of the best offensive catchers in baseball while adding a right-handed bat and a veteran of their division. Also, while he's a decent pitch-framer and an solid blocker, he's known around baseball for putting in extra time with his pitching staff, all of whom have been on record praising his work.
"I feel like I can help (a starting rotation) with my experience," Ramos told Philadelphia reporters this past summer. "Every time I am behind the plate, I try to help my guys on the mound. I love when we put zeroes on the scoreboard. That is my priority."
It's true, Ramos has struggled with injury. However, he's two years removed from his devastating knee surgery, after which he's played at least 110 games each of the past two years. Plus, the Mets and their fans should be happy to know Ramos has been working his ass off this winter to improve his flexibility and agility to strengthen his chronic hamstring issue.
The thing is, even if he again missed 50 games, he'll still provide more leadership and stability than Travis d'Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki or Tomas Nido.
In short, he's the right catcher at the right time for this specific Mets team. What's more, they have him for two seasons, so he's able to relax and take full ownership of his starting rotation, all of whom Mickey Callaway has said are in need of an on-field leader.
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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!