After trading for Marcus Stroman and dealing Jason Vargas, the Mets made no other moves before the trade deadline passed on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Shortly after the deadline, Van Wagenen talked about his thought process behind his moves and non-moves. Here are the takeaways...
How close were they to trading Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler?
"We had a lot of incoming calls. We've got a lot of players that are extremely talented and some of our players had years of control, like Noah. (Wheeler) is an extremely high-end, impact starting pitcher. There were lots of teams interested. There were a lot of teams interested in trying to acquire pitching -- especially of this magnitude. At the end of the day, we weren't gonna move key pieces to our club unless we felt like we were gonna be better positioned as we look at the long-term outlook of the team and the franchise. We didn't find those opportunities and we frankly weren't necessarily seeking those opportunities out. Those opportunities were being presented to us on an hourly basis, but we maintained our focus."
The move to bring in Marcus Stroman was not 2019-focused
"There's real benefit of course to where we are in the standings now, thanks to the attitude and energy and effort that our team has put forth since the All-Star break. But this was a now and next year look. This wasn't just a 2019 vision. We went in open-minded to this to find ways to improve. ... It allowed us to kick-start that process (of building for 2020) while still capitalizing on what could be an exciting summer."
Regarding Stroman, Van Wagenen added that the Mets had dialogue with the Blue Jays about him going back to the offseason, with the sides even exchanging names.
Can the Mets contend this year?
"We're the underdogs. We are now chasing the rest of the pack. I think this team has had -- going back to spring training -- really positive energy. ... we recognize that now we have to overcome what we put ourselves up against in the first half. I think here we are now in a position where we've got some momentum. We just have to keep going, but we do still see ourselves as the underdogs. We found a player in Marcus Stroman who that help us maintain that edge and see how aggressively we can make a run at this thing in 2019. And certainly he puts us in a good position to win ballgames in 2020."
On why they only traded Jason Vargas and didn't deal more players with expiring contracts
"We wanted to make good baseball moves. We weren't going to look at this as salary dump trades. We weren't going to look at this as just getting (a) modest return or B prospects in return. These guys are good players. They matter to us, they matter to the other guys in the clubhouse. We were only gonna move them away from the team if it was impactful to the organization. We do not undervalue our guys -- it's quite the opposite."
On a potential qualifying offer to Wheeler and him being a Met long-term
"We're looking less at a qualifying offer and I think more focused on -- Zack Wheeler matters to us. We think he's a good pitcher. We have interest in him being a Met for the long-term. How that sorts itself out over his next couple of months and free agency, time will tell. I don't think our decision making was simply a qualifying offer or a prospect return."
On the relationship with Syndergaard going forward
"Before the team left for Chicago, Jeff Wilpon and I sat down with Noah. We met with him there in the clubhouse. .... I've been in constant communication with his agent. We fully expected Noah to be with us, and Jeff and I communicated that to him yesterday -- that this idea that we wanted him out of here or that there was some sort of directive to have him out of here couldn't have been farther from the truth."