The New York Mets have a predicament on their hands. David Wright, the club’s all-time leader in hits, extra-base hits, walks and bWAR, is without a contract beyond the 2013 season. Wright is coming off what is arguably his finest season since 2007, in which he rode a strong first half to a .306/.391/.492 finish with 21 home runs and a .376 wOBA. Now it’s up to the Mets, who are seemingly never truly free of financial turmoil, to decide if giving all the money to the face of the franchise is their best option.
It would appear that the Mets and Wright may not have gotten off to a good start.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets offered Wright a six-year $100 million contract on Monday, which Rosenthal expects the 29-year old is “certain to refuse”. The term and dollars match the extensions signed by a pair of third basemen in Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria, Wright’s
laziest obvious comparables. Wright is entering the club option year of a six-year deal he signed in advance of the 2007 season, while Zimmerman (whose extension kicks in for 2014) and Longoria (2017) both signed deals well in advance their free agent year.
In a New York Post article from October, Joel Sherman noted that numerous executives from around MLB expected Wright to command something in the seven-year, $127 million range. Such a contract would make Wright the highest paid Met in team history ($16 million 2013 option included). Would topping the deals signed by Zimmerman and Longoria be worth it for the Mets?
Here’s how the three third basemen compare using 162 game averages:
Wright: .301/.381/.506; 26 HR; 41 2B; 21 SB; 135 OPS+
Zimmerman: .287/.353/.479; 25 HR; 41 2B; 5 SB; 121 OPS+
Longoria: .276/.361/.516; 33 HR; 41 2B; 9 SB; 137 OPS+
In terms of defense, Wright (-2.2) ranks behind both Zimmerman (4.1) and Longoria (11.4) in UZR/150 between 2010-2012. It’s not a damning indication, but certainly something to bear in mind. Wright, who turns 30 next month, is also the oldest of the aforementioned trio.
Looking at the Mets and their David Wright quandary from a feel-good platitude angle, it’s in the team’s best interest to lock-up their star third baseman and Cy Young Award winning pitcher, R.A. Dickey, in order to ascend the ranks of the National League East. Another option, of course is to explore the trade market, and thus wave the rebuilding flag. As Rosenthal notes, the Mets could grant any potential trade partners the opportunity to discuss an extension for Wright and/or Dickey in an effort to ensure a full return. Any such trade would likely have to take place before the start of the season, thus to guarantee that a prospective partner would still receive a shot at extending him a qualifying offer in advance of free agency.
So, has the extension signed by Longoria yesterday and Zimmerman’s from February derailed Wright’s shot at a massive payday? Hardly.
It’s not as simple as setting the contracts of Zimmerman and Longoria as the high-water mark for any potential agreement between Wright and the Mets. In the cases of Zimmerman and Longoria, it’s the player accepting what could be considered below market value well in advance of his actual free agency year. Wright is due for free agency after the 2013 season, which effectively means that the bidding begins now with an exclusive window granted to the Mets. Let’s just call the Mets reported first offer an entirely reasonable one, albeit one which Wright should ultimately reject.
Negotiations between Wright and the Mets are just getting started.
Update: Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Mets are believed to have offered Wright a seven-year deal worth “well above $100 million”. Well, how about that?
Update #2: Ken Rosenthal provides a little more clarity on the early tidbit from Martino, tweeting this:
Told #Mets‘ offer of extension to Wright yesterday was 6 yrs./$100M. Source today says team offering 7 yrs. between $125M and $150M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 27, 2012
So, yeah, if that’s not good enough to keep David Wright in a Mets uniform then he’s already made up his mind on testing free agency next winter.