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Nats Set a Bar for Wright that Mets Might Not Be Able to Reach

Nats Set a Bar for Wright that Mets Might Not Be Able to Reach

Nats Set a Bar for Wright that Mets Might Not Be Able to Reach

The Ryan Zimmerman contract extension sent shock waves throughout baseball. Anytime a player is awarded a deal north of $100 million, its big news. The biggest waves, however, reached the shores of Port St. Lucie, despite the fact that David Wright and the organization downplayed the impact.

You know the drill by now. David Wright has a $16 million dollar option for 2013. He’s coming off three-straight years of dubious performance where he also suffered a back injury. The Mets finances are “tight,” to say the least, so it’s no shoo-in that one of the best offensive players in team history will be around much longer.

Wright told reporters he wouldn’t go to the organization using the Zimmerman deal as a baseline. Later in the day, an anonymous executive told Andy Martino of the Daily News that the team would need four Zack Wheelers in return for Wright at this year’s trading deadline. I don’t care what David Wright or an anonymous executive says about the future, the Met know they have a challenging decision to make. They also know the odds are no better than 50/50- and that’s generous- of keeping Wright past this season.

Wright isn’t in the same category as Jose Reyes. Outside of 2011, he’s been a gamer; healthy and productive for most of his career. The problem is that Wright was a Hall of Fame caliber elite player from 2006-2008, and a very good, but inconsistent player from 2009-2011. Whether you sign him for 5 years, 7 years or longer, the Mets need to have the Wright pre-2008 to justify any sort of contract.

If Wright produces 25 HRs, 100 RBI and a .280 BA at third base this season, wouldn’t that be in line with Adrian Beltre (5/$80 million) and Ryan Zimmerman (6/$100 million)- both who make over $15 million dollars per season.

I hate to reiterate the obvious, but the Mets payroll budget has changed four times the last twelve months. Originally it was supposed to be $120 million, and then it went down to $110 million. In December, on a conference call with various blogs, Sandy Alderson said the payroll was going to be $100 million “with or without Jose Reyes.” As of today, the payroll will be around $91 million to start the year.

The Mets finances are contingent on what revenue they bring in from the team. It appears they have no ability to personally invest in any shortfalls. Reports this offseason stated the original projections required the Mets to draw about 3.2 million to Citi Field yearly in order to meet their obligations. I would be shocked if they were much above 1.7 million in attendance this year. As a matter of fact, I take the under on that figure.

If David Wright is going to remain a Met for life he is going to have to give them a hometown discount, just  like Chipper Jones did with Atlanta in 2001 (6 years/$90 million). If a Hall of Fame third baseman- one that switched positions multiple times for the team mind you – can do it, then so can Wright.

The difference is Jones was part of a positive winning culture. Playing for Atlanta was a better alternative than taking riches elsewhere with a second division club. I don’t know if playing for the Mets is good for David Wright. If the fact that he’s openly admitted he spends more time down in Virginia these days doesn’t concern you, then you clearly aren’t paying attention. This was a guy that used to enjoy the NYC life during the days when Cliff Floyd and Paul Lo Duca were part of the club.

Will David Wright do a 5 year/$80 million dollar deal to stay in New York? Will the Mets even be able to offer him that “discount” rate? I think the answer to both is “no.”

How can Wright and his agent justify a significantly lower deal than Zimmerman when Wright’s career has been superior? Remember, Zimmerman has similar questions about his game, and he is entering his age-27 season. Wright will be 30 when he becomes a free agent.

Maybe Wright makes this decision easy for the Mets and continues his decline. Maybe he shows everyone this year that he is “just like every other third baseman” and no longer the elite Hall of Fame-type hitter we use to known.

That would make Mets fans sad, but what would drive them crazy is if the team can’t afford to give arguably the best positional player in team history an extension while still in his prime.

Think the brand is suffering now? Just wait till that day comes. Even worse, it could the Washington Nationals- a city known for losing baseball teams and political bureaucracy – that played a huge role in it.

 

By Mike Silva
Monday, 27 Feb 2012

 

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