New York Mets: Why the Mets Must Re-Sign David Wright
Next season, the New York Mets will have a decision to make: whether to sign David Wright, trade him, or let him walk.
Wright's contract includes a team option for 2013, so all signs are pointing to at least one more season in Flushing for the All-Star third baseman. His future beyond next season though, is far from certain.
If the Mets let their home-grown franchise cornerstone slip through their grasp, they'll undoubtedly be under scrutiny by not only the media and fans, but their players alike.
Losing David Wright is something the Mets cannot afford to do, regardless of his price-tag. Let's go over the key reasons why the Wilpon family must finally shell out some cash to retain their most prized possession.
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The numbers tell the tale here; David Wright has been the best Mets position player this season. His 6.4 WAR is second in the National League only to Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen. He was an MVP candidate at this season's All-Star break, when he had his team in the thick of the playoff race, and six games over .500.
Even after a cooled second half, Wright still owns the fifth-best batting average in the league at .315, and has an OPS of .896. His on-base percentage leads the team at .401.
The 40 doubles he's smashed this season are second only to Aramis Ramirez's 45 for the National League lead. He's also second in the N.L. in walks with 78, and he's made the least amount of errors (10) he has in his entire career.
Losing Wright would be unacceptable in that they don't have a player of his caliber on the roster, and likely won't for years to come. His presence on the field is felt at all times, almost as strongly as his absence would be for New York. From a talent stand-point, bringing back Wright is a no-brainer.
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When you think of the New York Mets, not much comes to mind before David Wright.
He's the longest-tenured Met, as he's donned the blue and orange since he made his major league debut in July of 2004. He's the franchise's leader in the following categories: runs scored, total bases, doubles, runs batted in, walks, extra base hits, and sacrifice flies.
He's second in team history in batting average at .301, fourth in on base percentage, and third in slugging percentage. With eight more hits he'll become the Mets' all-time hits leader with 1,419.
Simply put, he's Mr. Met himself. With Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran gone, Wright remains as the most commonly seen name on the back of jerseys in the Citi Field seats.
Behind David Wright, the next Mets leader in WAR is Scott Hairston, followed by Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada. Solid options to have in a lineup for sure, but they're no where close to being the sort of New York icon and Mets ambassador that David Wright has become in his nine Metropolitan seasons.
Without David Wright, the Mets are without a face. This can all be avoided with a brand new contract that would likely keep Wright as a Met for the rest of his playing days. “You'd like (a new contract) to take you to the end of your career," he told CBS Sports earlier this month.
To Avoid a Jose Reyes Repeat
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This time last season, we were having this same conversation about Jose Reyes. Reyes wound up darting to South Beach after the Mets neglected to offer the reigning batting champ a contract to stay a New York Met.
Following all the negative attention the Mets received after Reyes fiasco, Sandy Alderson and the Mets brass can't afford to make themselves vulnerable again. The team has cut payroll down from $119 million in 2011 to $93 million in just one season, and appear to be in all-out cost-cutting mode.
Owner Fred Wilpon consistently insists that his financially dangerous involvement with the Bernie Madoff legal situation does not affect the ballclub, but not making an effort to re-sign your best player seems to tell a different story. The Wilpon family saved $106 million in letting Reyes move on to a division rival, but the Mets lost their sparkplug, and Mets fans lost their favorite player.
A year later, the favorite player is different, but the situation largely identical. David Wright will be offered a six-figure contract from somebody—CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has speculated that Wright will be looking for around eight years and $160 million in his new deal.
It's unlikely that Mets fans will be able to cope with losing the second half of their promising duo of the mid-2000s. It's also unlikely that the Mets would be able to rebound from losing their third All-Star (remember Carlos Beltran?) in two to three years' time.
In Miami, Reyes' OPS is down over 100 points in his inaugural Marlin season, to a more pedestrian .776.
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It's a topic that's often been debated in New York, but David Wright's leadership is key to the New York Mets' success.
Wright has been a member of the Mets clubhouse since 2004. He's played under four different managers, three different general managers, and an owner that's openly stated to The New Yorker that his third baseman is a "really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”
There are a few popular opinions related to Wright's leadership in the Mets clubhouse. Let's go over some of them.
David Wright's lack of leadership is the reason the Mets have played so poorly since 2009.
David Wright is not the issue for the Mets, and he hasn't been the issue. He isn't the reason the team hasn't won games the last few years. That would be a combination of injuries, poorly assembled bullpens, missed opportunities offensively with runners in scoring position, and simply not having good enough players.
David Wright doesn't show enough emotion to be a leader.
What Wright does when the cameras aren't watching doesn't win or lose baseball games. Wright's leadership was great when the team was eight games over .500 this season, right? You didn't hear a peep about the way Wright handles the clubhouse. When the team struggles, like it has the entire second half, you'll come across a few articles here and there that criticize Wright's abilities as a leader, which are simply barking at the wrong tree.
In fact, with Wright as the primary leader in the clubhouse for the first time in his career, the team has had no reported incidents involving locker room issues. This marks the first year in many that this is the case.
He's the Lone Holdover from 2006
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The last time the New York Mets made the playoffs was 2006, six long, painful years ago for Mets fans. The 2012 team has one common player with that dynamite 2006 squad: David Wright.
Over the years, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez have walked away from Flushing, just as Cliff Floyd, Paul Lo Duca, Jose Valentin, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and most recently Jose Reyes have gone in different directions since their magical run six seasons ago.
But David Wright remains.
Wright is one of just seven members of this year's Mets team with prior playoff experience. In that 2006 season in which the Mets won 97 games, they fell just a game short of reaching the World Series. This is the closest Wright has ever been to a championship.
However, that 2006 season was a season that has been very seldom replicated in the bigs since. The off-field swagger and on-field dominance that team boasted was something special (similar to what the 2012 Nationals have demonstrated).
The fact that Wright is the lone holdover from the team's most recent stretch of success is important. He's experienced success in Queens—unlike any member of the current team—and knows what it takes to reach that pedestal again.
Without him, the team won't have a single player that's played on a winning New York Mets team.
Right now, it's just a matter of keeping the team's sole trace of success in New York.
A Message to the Fans
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The last time the New York Mets dealt out a contract of more than two years was January 5, 2010, when the team shelled $66 million to Jason Bay, who's done more to hurt the team than help it in his three Mets seasons.
Since then, the team has been financially hamstrung. It's been an economic downfall of epic proportions, by cutting almost $60 million of team payroll in three years, most recently demonstrated by the team not even reaching out to re-sign Jose Reyes, their nine-year vet and home-grown All-Star.
It comes as no surprise that the team hasn't had a winning season since their spending-spree came to an end. Since 2009, no Mets team has won more than 79 games in a season, or finished higher than fourth place in the National League East.
Opening up the checkbook to lock up David Wright in New York forever would send a message to fans: The Mets are ready to win again.
And that's all they're dying to hear.
Follow John Dorn on Twitter at @JSDorn6 for more Mets insight.