Brodie Van Wagenen said multiple times this offseason that the Mets would maintain dialogue with free agent Zack Wheeler. But when Wheeler's camp came back to the Mets before agreeing to a deal with the Phillies, New York did not make an official offer.
Wheeler then signed a five-year deal with Philadelphia worth $118 million, with Van Wagenen saying that it exceeded what the Mets' internal projections for Wheeler were.
"I think the value for what we thought the investment [was] didn't line up," Van Wagenen explained on Dec. 9. "The projections that we had for Zack, both short-term and long-term, didn't quite match up to the market that he was able to enjoy. ... We maintained dialogue with Zack's agent up until the last week. I think that both sides had expressed interest in potentially finding a way to have a reunion, but I think over the course of the last six weeks it started to become more clear that the price point was going to go beyond how we valued him."
After being introduced to the Philadelphia media on Monday, Wheeler responded to Van Wagenen's comments.
"I don't need any more motivation. I already got it,'' Wheeler told the New York Post. "But that's his opinion. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but yeah, that may help me out a little bit.''
After being unable to bridge the gap when it came to a potential extension for Wheeler before the trade deadline this past season, the Mets made him available and were expected to trade him. But they did not find a package to their liking and hung on to Wheeler instead
Now, they'll get a compensation pick in return for losing him. And Wheeler seemed to hint to the Post on Monday that Van Wagenen's decision to not retain him might have been a bit shortsighted.
"He wasn't there the whole time,'' Wheeler said about Van Wagenen, who was named GM after the 2018 season. "He only knows me from last year. He watched me I guess when he was watching his other players on the team."
Van Wagenen was clear when trading for Marcus Stroman at the 2019 trade deadline that he felt the Mets were getting a jump on their offseason. And with Stroman under control for 2020, Van Wagenen views him as a replacement for Wheeler.
The Mets have also signed Rick Porcello (for $10 million) and Michael Wacha (for $3 million plus incentives) this offseason to join a starting pitching group that includes Stroman, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz.