It hard to think that after the stunning exit from the 2006 NLCS, the consecutive collapses that followed, the mediocre baseball since, and the gut check that was the departure of Jose Reyes, that things could actually get worse for our beloved Mets. With the team poised to close out its worst campaign in at least four years, the organization isn’t exactly entering the offseason on a high note. Unfortunately, this winter includes another moment of truth for our favorite floundering franchise. That moment in question..The process in which they will try to find a way to retain the most tenured player on the roster, David Wright.
It doesn’t appear that signing Wright to a contract extension will be as easy as dollars and cents. Earlier this season, Wright went on record stating that the opportunity to win a championship going forward is likely more important than the value of his next deal. This is a unique issue for the team’s front office, which seems to be entrenched in financial difficulty. Retaining the home grown slugger appears to be tied as much to the players they place around him, as it is in his own net worth. None of this should seem like a stretch when considering that Wright is set to enter his thirties, having made only one career postseason appearance, in position to sign what may be the final contract of his career. So what happens next?
In his most recent video blog (HERE), ESPN’s Buster Olney becomes the most recent member of the major sports media to indicated that the Mets appear set for another basically dormant off season. Content to await the maturity of their pitching prospects or once again handcuffed by the checkbook of majority owner, Fred Wilpon, the consensus that this winter won’t include the renovations necessary to turn the team’s current roster into a likely contender should strike fear into the hearts of Mets fans hoping to see David Wright in blue and orange for the foreseeable future. Olney also hypothesizes that anything is possible should the team lay an enormous offer at the feet of their all-star third baseman, a scenario few Mets fans can envision citing the thrifty ways of Sandy Alderson’s front office.
Call me crazy, but tend I to take David Wright at his word. That’s exactly why the scenarios presented by Buster Olney, Adam Rubin and every other person “in the know” in recent weeks make me think we may be witnessing the final days of David Wright in Queens.
Even if everything else comes together. If the starting rotation takes shape without further delay, if the bullpen suddenly finds its way, and if the team can remain otherwise healthy, the Mets are no less than two quality starting outfielders away from fielding a contending ball club. Those are two pretty significant, expensive, moves for a front office which appears destine, by all accounts, to stay the course for yet another winter. If that’s the case, it leaves only money as a way of enticing Wright to stay with the team long term. This in and of itself presents a problem since Sandy Alderson seems intent on not overpaying at all costs. If money becomes the deciding factor, as it was with Jose Reyes, then surely Wright will find much larger fortunes elsewhere.
The other unfortunate portion of this equation is Wright’s resistance to in-season negotiations. This only heightens the importance of the impending offseason as it will be the franchise’s only opportunity to make this happen. If they are unable to come to terms, then the thought process of the front office will turn to when, not if, Wright should be traded away. With each game of the 2013 season his plays, Wright’s trade value decreases. Certainly the organization cannot afford to have him walk away without significant compensation, as Jose Reyes did. Its for that reason, and the fact that I simply don’t see the Mets putting enough talent around him this off season to convince him that the future in Queens, is sooner than later, that I now believe his time here is coming to a close.
Two years ago it was unthinkable that the left side of the team’s infield wasn’t set in stone for the next decade. Now it appears the rebuild could become even more complicated. Losing Wright would be more than a set back. His value on the field is trumped only by his worth off of it. The closest thing the Mets have to a pure bread superstar, David Wright’s time here is in jeopardy. In the interest of the fans, and the future, the Mets must find a way, but will they?
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