It's impossible to un-hear something. So what does Brodie Van Wagenen, the powerful CAA agent, do with the information he doubtless holds on his high-level Mets clients now that he's pulled a career change and is becoming the team's new general manager.
That's just one of the questions facing the man whom the club has picked to lead its baseball operations. There's plenty to wonder about any new exec, including the biggest question: Can you build a consistent winner? But Van Wagenen's soon-to-be previous life as an agent brings additional queries, too.
With that in mind, here are seven questions Van Wagenen should answer as he begins his Mets tenure.
1. How do you navigate the client-agent privilege enjoyed with Mets stars such as Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes?
This is the question that bugs the Players Association. MLBPA boss Tony Clark told reporters before Game 3 of the World Series that he's gotten texts and calls from players about the potential conflict of interest involved with an agent switching to management. "Our membership is paying attention," Clark said.
As well it should. Van Wagenen potentially knows things about his Met clients that no GM in baseball could possibly know. If he's going to do his best for the Mets, doesn't he have to use it? How uncomfortable does this make his Mets clients?
And what did deGrom tell him about what kind of deal he would want to stick around Flushing? If the new GM knows everything about him, does deGrom think he'll get the best potential long-term deal here, even if the guy who used to work for him is making the recommendations to the Mets?
2. How do you build relationships with the same agents you used to compete with for clients?
The Mets need to sign free agents. That's not a comment on the current roster, it's a fact of roster-building life every offseason. Van Wagenen's old competitors for players are now across the bargaining table. They're already wondering about his switch to a team's corridors of power -- superagent Scott Boras has talked publicly more than once about Van Wagenen's conflict of interest. Can they work together to get a Boras client on the Mets this winter? Or when Michael Conforto needs to be signed long-term?
3. Will his hints of collusion last winter have any effect on his ability to work the trade market with other teams' executives?
Van Wagenen has never been the most garrulous agent, but he released a statement before spring training criticizing clubs for the slow-moving free agent market. The statement also suggested "a fight is brewing." If that fight is still percolating, what's Van Wagenen's place in it?
4. Why do you want this job, anyway?
Let's face it: Van Wagenen was making reported millions and isn't taking over the current Red Sox -- jacked with young talent on a roster that includes one of baseball's best players (Mookie Betts), best sluggers (J.D. Martinez) and best pitchers (Chris Sale). Though they've got some nice talent, including Van Wagenen's old clients, the Mets need some work.
5. How will you handle the parts of the business you don't know?
We'll take Van Wagenen against most anyone in baseball when it comes to negotiating. You don't get that kind of money in commissions just by showing up with a clever PowerPoint presentation and a sharp tie.
But he's never overseen a player development department. Can he evaluate a player and help determine real value? We'll see. In fairness to him, he'll have help and can delegate those duties. But that also brings us to another point, one that an executive from another team, says is vital.
6. Who's coming with you?
"I would think the biggest question is who's around him," says the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "What people is he going to bring in to fill some of his lack of experience as it relates to developing an entire organization?"
Van Wagenen doesn't just have to learn the talent level of the players in the organization. He's got to learn their backgrounds, off-the-field issues and what exactly has been invested in their development. He could rely on holdover executives John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya. But while ownership wants that trio to return, the Wilpons have also said that the new boss will make the final decision on their futures, too.
Their advice could be crucial, though, considering this: Opposing teams buzz around new GMs, eager to separate them from a player the exec may underestimate.
"The most vulnerable time to lose the value of a player is when someone new comes into an organization," the anonymous executive says. "That's everywhere -- I'm not saying it'll happen with the Mets. But you want to make the team better. You want to make moves when you come in."
But without a history in the organization, will Van Wagenen know whether a player's big season is a breakout year or an outlier? Is a down year for another player a blip or a burgeoning trend?
7. What are your plans for this Mets club?
Two straight seasons destroyed in part by injuries, acquisitions that didn't work and poor performance mean there's plenty for Van Wagenen to do. He doubtless knows the biggies -- fix the bullpen and upgrade at catcher. Can he trade a young pitcher for a star position player? Should he? What about the "current inertia" that he said once affected the concept of an extension for deGrom, one of the club's most beloved players? Does your working relationship with Cespedes mean you can get the most out of him, if he can come back strong from two heel surgeries?