David Wright And The Near Certainty Of A Mets Extension

MIAMI, FL - David Wright of the New York Mets throws for an out during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

David Wright is going bananas on the National League this year. He also isn't a great bet to see free agency for a few years.

Last year at this time, the Mets were horrible. They were supposed to be. They were 18-21, and Ike Davis had just been sucked into the injury vortex.

But they had something positive happening, at least. One of their homegrown fan favorites, Jose Reyes, was having his best year as a pro. It was the last year of Reyes' deal, but the Mets were publicly stating that they would make an effort to re-sign him. They scheduled Jose Reyes Banner Day for after the trade deadline, indicated some measure of confidence. The deadline came and went with Reyes staying on the Mets.

After the season, Reyes shuffled off into that teal goodnight. The Mets got nothing.

This year, the Mets were supposed to be horrible. And David Wright is now having the same kind of unexpected-but-not-that-surprising career year that Jose Reyes had last year. There are a couple of parallels. There are also some substantial differences:

  • The Mets are not terrible. Not yet. If the season ended today, they'd be the second wild card (despite being handily outscored)
  • Wright is not a pending free agent, as he still has a team option for 2013
  • The Mets had a replacement on hand for Reyes -- they're probably a couple years away from Wilmer Flores being ready to take over for Wright

It's not a perfect parallel. But Wright and Reyes will always be linked. They comprised one of the best homegrown left sides of an infield in baseball history. And if one could slip away in free agency, obviously the other could too. From the Wall Street Journal, though, comes a suggestion that the Mets are going to take a different approach with Wright:

General manager Sandy Alderson is still assessing Wright's long-term value, and no decision has been made on either the terms or the timing of any offer. But it has become increasingly likely that Wright, 29, will remain a Met for years to come.

Alderson declined to comment on any potential contract negotiations Sunday. But he all but ruled out trading Wright this summer.

Not signing Reyes made baseball sense. Not trading him might have been a mistake, but it was a sensible risk to think Ruben Tejada could do a similar job to Reyes for 1/20th the price. Add in the injury concerns and the expected salary, and you can see how the Mets decided to pass.

Not signing Wright might make baseball sense. The stress fracture in his lower back is healed, but his continued health has to be a concern as he enters his 30s. His defense is declining, too, as The Fielding Bible puts him near the bottom of all third basemen in runs saved over the past three seasons. Age isn't going to help that.

There are a lot of baseball reasons for the Mets to sign David Wright, too. A list of those reasons:

  • Dude's good.

There should be concerns signing any player to a long-term deal in his 30s, but David Wright is a fantastic baseball player. The most important part to a potential Wright extension, though, might have to do with the non-baseball reasons. The Mets' ownership is still embroiled in a financial mess. They already let Reyes go. There's a stigma about the team that's already going to be hard to erase.

Letting a second homegrown All-Star go would make that stigma just a little more indelible.

The Mets will have to take the market value of Wright -- let's just say 6/$130 million just to have numbers to work with -- and factor in the damage it would do to let him go. Wright alone doesn't sell $130 million worth of tickets, obviously. But the ideas that a) the Mets can't compete with the rest of baseball financially and b) they can't hold on to their homegrown stars might prevent tens of millions worth of tickets, concessions, and merchandise from being sold. Reyes leaving -- even for solid baseball reasons -- would help contribute to that perception. Wright leaving could be a tipping point.

And he'll be worth more to the Mets than he would be to any other team for that reason. Sandy Alderson is a good baseball mind. But has to deal with the PR side of the game, too. There are good baseball reasons to sign and not to sign Wright. But the PR reasons will force the Mets' hand. The team is interested in signing David Wright. He's interested in staying. Here's a guess that he stays, and for a ton of money.

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