New York Mets: Is It Time to Consider Moving David Wright?
This weekend, I was catching up on Mets news when I stumbled upon an article by Adam Rubin from this past Friday. In it, he muses on the prospects of the Mets trading David Wright.
My gut reaction after my first read was a very strong “Heck no!” Wright is the face of the Mets and arguably the best position player the organization has ever produced. In addition, he plays third base, which is a position that is fairly scarce in terms of talent, and he has a team-friendly contract.
The fans love him, and Wright loves them right back. One could argue that Wright is the Mets' equivalent of Derek Jeter.
Sure, he will be due for a big pay raise after the 2013 season, but if anyone deserves a big contract it is Wright.
As a fan, I would hope that if a team called asking about Wright, Sandy Alderson would hang up the phone immediately.
However, is this the best move for the Mets? Is it even the best move for Wright?
Currently the Mets are 8-13 and in the cellar of the NL East. While they have won three in a row, most expect this to simply be a high moment on the season rather than a change in course.
By the time the trade deadline rolls around, the Mets are expected to be big sellers with pretty much everyone being made available: From current “ace” Mike Pelfrey, to shortstop Jose Reyes, to outfielder Carlos Beltran and closer Francisco Rodriguez.
If the Mets can somehow pull off trades for all of these players, they should have a deep minor league system.
However, the product at the major league level will be even worse than it is now.
The big question becomes how long will a rebuilding process take?
If the Mets manage to acquire several solid prospects that are close to major league ready, the best case scenario is that with smart management the team might be able to return to contender status by 2013.
In this scenario, it makes complete sense to re-sign Wright—and hopefully during the lifetime of this contract—the Mets will get their first World Series title since 1986.
But what if the rebuilding process takes a little longer than expected (I don’t even want to think about the possibility that none of the prospects acquired pan out)? What if the Mets remain at best a .500 team and at worst, well what they are now until 2014 or 2015?
If this is the case come 2013, does it make sense to ink a 31-year-old Wright to a big contract extension? At this point he will be on the tail end of his prime and perhaps even beginning his decline.
In addition, as Rubin notes, the organization does not believe that currently Wright is capable of being the player who shoulders the majority of the load in a lineup. While this at first seems ridiculous, a look at Wright’s numbers show he had his truly great years while surrounded by both a healthy Beltran and Carlos Delgado.
So should a struggling Mets organization devote big money to a player older than 30 who needs other big bats in the lineup to maximize his ability?
Would Wright even want to stick around until that point on a mediocre team, hoping that management eventually puts together a World Series caliber team? Or would he decide that it is time to move on and join a competitor?
All of this speculation is not even taking into consideration the Wilpon financial struggles and whether or not they have overcame them (or hopefully sold the team) by this point. If not, the Mets may not even have the money to keep Wright, regardless of whether he wants to stay or not.
The fact is right now, a top third baseman in his prime with a multi-year contract could bring in a huge haul of young players with at least one or two top prospects who would be ready for the majors either this year or next.
The Mets right now also have the luxury of not needing to act immediately, unlike most out-of-contention teams who have an all-star that is undoubtedly departing in the offseason. They can afford to wait for a great offer now, and if none comes then they don’t act. However the closer it gets to 2013, the more this luxury wanes.
If the Mets add the prospects they land for Wright to the prospects they acquire during the fire sale, then the team would have a lot of young talent that over the next few years would come up through the system together. Hopefully this process would revitalize the franchise. In addition, the team will have the luxury of having prospects that they can move for any missing piece they might need over the next few years.
One trade that is comparable is the Rockies moving Matt Holliday, who had one year remaining on his contract at the time, to the Oakland A’s for Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez. Needless to say, even though Smith has yet to pan out, the Rockies did pretty well.
Now I love watching Wright play third base for the Mets just as much as the next Met fan, and I would be absolutely heartbroken to see both he and Reyes get traded.
But if a team comes calling, maybe Alderson shouldn’t immediately hang up the phone.
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