The Wright Answer
Though the Mets season officially ended less than a week ago, it already feels like months since the team has suited up and taken the field. By all accounts, there is a good chance that the team has a completely new look heading into the 2013 season with upper management, namely Sandy Alderson, stating that he needs an influx of new talent via trades.
However, there are two huge questions that need to be addressed internally before fans can get excited about any players currently outside the organization.
What are the Mets going to do about contract extensions for stars David Wright and R.A. Dickey?
Step 1 of the process is securing David Wright for the long-term. He’s been the face of the franchise since he was promoted, and is already one of the most successful players the organization has ever seen. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber defender, a Top 5 offensive third baseman and in the prime of his career. Even if the Mets don’t see themselves as ready to compete for a championship next season (god I hope they are), Sandy Alderson and Fred Wilpon have made it perfectly clear that Wright will be apart of the solution and never the problem.
Fact is, for once it seems the Mets management is thinking about this situation properly. Mets fans have had very few things to cheer about since the move to Citi Field. In fact, if they still played in Shea Stadium, they’d probably be a more fun team to watch because of everything Shea meant to die-hards like myself.
Nevertheless, Wright is one of the very few players in Major League Baseball where his relationship to the fan base is inelastic to how he actually performs. Mets fans need David Wright to stick around because he’s A) a star, B) the face of the franchise and C) the best homegrown offensive talent the organization has ever seen. Everybody can throw around stats saying Wright clearly regressed in the second half of the year when compared to his MVP-caliber start to the season. There could be numerous reasons for the decline, including the grind of a 162-game season and being the only reliable offensive weapon the team has, requiring him to feel extra pressure to carry the offensive load by himself.
Now comes the not fun part about evaluating where David Wright’s true value is: his monetary contract. The baseline for Wright has to be the extension the Washington Nationals gave Ryan Zimmerman (eight years, $114 million with a $18 million option in 2020) because of their similar age and importance to the team. From there, you can make a very well-rounded argument that Wright is indeed a better player, considering both have won multiple Gold Gloves, but Wright has more career home runs, RBI, higher batting average and has been healthier throughout his career.
Insiders and team beat writers have said the Mets plan on starting negotiations in the six-year, $100 million range with full knowledge that the price tag will only go up, not down. Wright will turn 30 this off-season, so a contract in the range of six guaranteed years with one or two option years seems to be appropriate. Again, keep in mind that Wright’s value is one of the few that is more than just what he does on the field. Without David Wright on the Mets after next season, barring some unforeseen blockbuster trade, there would be almost zero reason to see the Mets play from a talent standpoint given their current roster.
Throughout the entire process, the Mets and David Wright have always said the correct things to the media. Sandy Alderson has made his contract extension priority #1 this off-season, which says a ton considering the improvements the roster needs.
Keeping David Wright a New York Met for the long-term may not make the team better next year, the year after or even the year after that. There’s no saying that the team will improve with or without David Wright as the captain or whatever. But, it is what us Mets fans want.
And for once, it seems like ownership is taking that into serious consideration.