John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
To this point, Brodie Van Wagenen's big-splash mentality as a GM hasn't served the Mets well, as his big trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz has failed to produce the desired results. But that didn't keep him from bringing the same approach to his first MLB draft.
The result was the Mets making the boldest move of the MLB Draft, using a third-round pick to select a first-round talent -- high school pitcher Matthew Allan, whose reported $4 million asking price had scared off teams to that point.
If it someday is also remembered as the shrewdest move of the 2019 Draft, then perhaps Van Wagenen will be forgiven by Mets fans for including last year's first-round draft choice, Jarred Kelenic, in the Cano/Diaz trade.
We'll see about that, considering Kelenic's minor-league success with the Mariners so far that is creating huge expectations in Seattle, and more anger in New York.
For that matter, who knows, perhaps the blowback on the Kelenic deal was a factor in Van Wagenen maneuvering to add an extra blue-chipper out of this draft.
Whatever the case, the decision to take a big swing, which theoretically forced the Mets to settle for lower-ceiling players in rounds 4-10, is getting better reviews from some of the same scouts who thought Van Wagenen was crazy to trade Kelenic, as well as 2016 first-rounder Justin Dunn.
"He has a big upside," said one scout who saw several of Allan's starts over his junior and senior years of high school in Florida. "He's a big, strong kid with a big fastball and a good feel for pitching. He's someone you can project as a front-end-of-the-rotation starter.
"There's always the argument of quality vs. quantity when you make a move like this, because every team has only so much money to spread around with their draft picks, but if this kid develops into a star pitcher, the Mets are going to look very smart."
Yes, it's an organizational decision, to be sure, and the front office is being very hush-hush about how it all went down in the war room -- at least until Allan is signed. But clearly Van Wagenen acted on his scouts' strong feeling about the pitcher's potential and decided it was a deal worth pursuing.
Primarily that meant getting on the phone with Scott Boras, his one-time rival from Van Wagenen's days as an agent, and doing some negotiating.
Boras is acting as Allan's adviser, eventually his agent when the player turns pro. and some baseball people believed his presence was a factor in convincing teams to pass on Allan, believing the reports that it would take $4 million to get the pitcher to forego his commitment to attend the University of Florida.
Perhaps that will be what it winds up costing to sign him, but at the moment nobody knows for sure. First the Mets need to know exactly what it will cost to sign their first-round pick, high school third baseman Brett Baty, who is still involved in state tournament play in Texas.
However, the presumption in the industry is that Van Wagenen and Boras came to some sort of understanding on what it will take to sign Allan.
The tricky part in all of this, meanwhile, is fitting what amounts to two first-round signing bonuses, for Baty and Allan, into the total of the $8,224,600 they have to spend on the first 10 rounds of the draft, as designated by MLB.
To make that possible the Mets drafted fourth-year college players, the cheapest commodity in the draft because they have virtually no leverage, in rounds 4-10.
It doesn't mean they're not draft-worthy players, but that strategy obviously limited the Mets' options. The gamble, then, is that Allan will be worth whatever the organization may have given up in those later rounds to make the money work.
A second scout of amateur talent, in addition to the one quoted earlier, agreed the pitcher's talent is easily worth such a gamble.
"We liked him a lot," said the scout, who is based in Florida. "We had him as a mid-first round pick. Signability is the only reason he slid. I saw him a lot, and I got to know him and his family well. He's very intelligent, a tremendous kid who is serious about training and diet.
"He's a big, strong kid with a great arm. He's got a clean, easy delivery with three above-average pitches: a very good fastball --I saw it from 92 to 98 mph, a sharp-breaking curve with good spin, and he's got a good feel for his changeup too. There's a lot to like."
Obviously the Mets' scouts felt the same way, and that was enough to convince Van Wagenen to act boldly. Just like it's obvious that a dud of a trade,so far, anyway, the GM made hasn't changed his nature, for better or for worse.