Have the New York Mets and David Wright reached the point when it’s time to do the right thing? Let’s explore the thought.
How to make the best out of a bad thing. That is the albatross and the story of David Wright as it hangs over the New York Mets. Regrettably, the time has come to do the right thing so both sides can move on.
No one wants to think about Wright’s situation with the Mets, much less talk about it. He’s been the elephant in the Mets’ room for quite some time now.
Wright loves baseball and the Mets. In return, the Mets and their fans adore Wright and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. It’s just that both sides seem to be waiting for a different script to read than the one they’ve been given. The trouble is the movie is in the final stages of completion, and there is no time for editing before the premiere.
Captain America, as he is known to his teammates, Mets fans, and all fans of baseball, will celebrate his 35th birthday next month. To most, it seems like just yesterday that he was selected in the first round (38th overall) of the June 2001 draft out of Hickory High School in Chesapeake, VA.
Two Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger awards, and seven All-Star Game appearances later, Wright is but a shell of what he once was. And it’s all come about through no fault of his own or the Mets. This is not the story of the fumbling and bumbling Mets who have been rightly criticized for the way they’ve handled injuries in the recent past.
No, Wright has been the victim of what many doctors claim to be a degenerative condition that may or may not be fixed through surgery. The result has been a quagmire of instances in which Wright was forced onto the disabled list.
David Wright: Against all odds
This past March, the New York Daily News‘ Seth Walder noted nine occasions involving Wright which resulted in various injuries and lost time on the field. And if you didn’t catch the date, that would not include all of the 2017 season, which he missed.
Based on his injury history from day one, Baseball Reference predicts he will have less than 200 at-bats with eight home runs and 22 RBI in 2018. All would agree, I assume, something is “off” with this picture.
And let’s understand something before we go further. There is nothing “off” about Wright, the person. His character and the way he has carried himself over the course of his 13-year career equals, if not exceeds, that of Derek Jeter.
All of which leads us to the notion that Wright and the Mets need to come up with a way to cross the bridge that’s been staring them in the face for some time. Further, they need to accomplish this Herculean feat in a manner that satisfies all parties.
Standing in the way are two giant boulders that need to be moved. The first falls squarely on the Mets and it’s the fact that David Wright is the face of the franchise and the organization has no one to replace him in that regard. Wright has never wavered from this responsibility, and there’s no reason to think he ever will, whether he plays in 10 or 140 games this season.
Matt Harvey had his chance to replace Wright and blew it with his childish behavior. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard could step into the role, but it would be a stretch as neither seems to have the patience for the job. And make no mistake, it is a job.
The second barrier, though, is the almighty dollar. As things stand today, David Wright is owed $47 million through 2020 when his contract expires. And before we go much further on this, let me point out that every July, the Mets send a check for roughly $1 million to Bobby Bonilla. Remember him? And they continue to do so for another 18 years until 2035 arrives. So, we’re talking big money with Wright but we’re not talking foolishly spent money.
If there’s a will, there’s a way
Still, as we know, the Wilpons – ah how do we say this – have been “conservative” in how often they reach into their pockets to spend money to better the Mets. There, is that politically correct? In any case, if a “separation” between the Mets and Wright is to occur, there needs to be a loosening of the purse strings on the part of the team.
How much, of course, is the question. Consider this. According to Baseball Reference, Wright has earned $145,446,500 during his time with the Mets. That doesn’t count endorsements. Given his character, it’s safe to assume he has nearly all of it invested and not spent. So, the answer to the question is another question: How much of the $47 million does Wright need to provide for his family’s future and to “make it through” the rest of his life? All of it? Some of it? For most of us, the answer would be none of it.
But for someone like Wright, it’s not that simple. Because if he were to leave even a small portion of the $47 million on the table, he would be in line for a nasty phone call from the MLB Players Association and open to ridicule from other players in the league who would see it with fear that it could become a precedent for the future.
You get the drift, though, right? There’s room on both sides to seek an accommodation that would allow, for instance, Wright to assume a coaching job with the Mets, a position in their front office, or even a generous offer to buy stock into the Mets. In return for which, Wright would “hang ’em up,” ending the suspense and opening up a spot on the roster for a player in the team’s future.
Or the Mets can kick the can down the road again, hoping for a miracle beyond miracles that David Wright will play a minimum of 130 games in 2018. And, here’s the real gist of it, that he will make a contribution to the team with numbers on the board resembling the brand of baseball he’s been known to achieve.
As stated in the beginning, no one wants to speak of this “unfortunate circumstance.” Well, there you have it. What say you?