Mets fans are split when it comes to David Wright. Some want him to come back so they can cheer him on again, while others want him to call it quits and retire already. We can all love the Captain while being torn about whether or not we want to see him in uniform at Citi Field again. Before proclaiming your belief that Wright should retire, however, it is important to have all the facts.
David Wright, his contract and its insurance
As explained by Adam Rubin of SNY, “if Wright never appears in the Majors again, the Mets would be reimbursed for $15 million of the $20 million owed to him this season. If Wright does reach the Majors and heads back to the DL, the deductible clock starts again and the Mets would be on the hook for 100 percent of his salary during the next 60 days. Therefore, an emotional but fleeting return for the captain to the Mets would be incredibly costly for the organization.”
To that, there’s only one reply – who cares?
The Mets are a Major League baseball team playing in the largest market in the league. Their payroll flexibility should not live and die by whether Wright’s contract is covered by insurance. With good reason, years and years of cost-cutting moves has jaded the perspective of the Mets fan. Look no further than the Jay Bruce trade.
Because of this philosophy, Wright has somehow become the villain for wanting to play in 2017 and the financial ramifications that might come with that. Wright, though, should be viewed as anything but. He’s perhaps the greatest position player in franchise history. He’s also refused to give up on his career despite a series of debilitating injuries. Wright has absolutely nothing to do with the economic philosophies of the front office and he should not be blamed for such.
The Mets, who again play in New York City, have just two players on their 40-man roster (Wright and Yoenis Cespedes) making over $10 million this season. Prior to recent trades, that number was still only four players (Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson). The Washington Nationals have eight such players.
At the end of the day, the Mets’ payroll should not depend on whether or not Wright’s contract gets insurance. Unfortunately, by the team allowing that perception, it has caused great ambivalence among the fanbase about Wright’s return.
Who’s on third?
Part of the negative perception around Wright’s return has been the Mets’ lack of willingness to seek a long-term answer at third base. If the team was committed to another option at the position, then fans wouldn’t view Wright’s health as holding the position hostage.
Instead, the team has seemed to be content to use stop-gaps at third base while hoping Wright can return healthy. Let’s not forget that the backup plan to Wright at third base this year was Jose Reyes. Since that time a lot has happened. Most notably in this context, Wright has struggled to just throw a baseball in his rehab let alone play third base.
As for who’s playing the hot corner, Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores have emerged as the latest stop-gap third basemen. Needless to say, it’s going to be a tough sell for the Mets to go into 2018 with Cabrera at third base considering they were and probably still are essentially willing to trade him away for free. As for Flores, he’s hit well lately but has never posted above a .788 OPS for a full season and plays a shaky third base. Translation: both these players have had their shot and aren’t long-term answers.
Rather than save a spot for Wright, the Mets only need to worry about where to play him when that situation arises. If there’s a logjam at third base one day, address it then. Playing in just 75 games since 2014, Wright cannot continue to be counted on, and even if he does come back, he probably can’t play every day anyway.
Finding a new third baseman would signal the end to the Wright era as we know it, and that’s probably a better idea than continuing to pin the hopes of the fans and organization on a player that simply cannot be an everyday third baseman anymore. It would take the pressure off Wright and allow the fanbase to appreciate him fully again before it’s too late.