David Wright, 36, is younger than the Mets’ new second baseman, Robinson Cano, but was forced to retire in September because of chronic injuries. He was formally released from the roster on Monday and officially joined the front office as a special adviser to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon and General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
Wright assisted the Mets’ contingent at the winter meetings in Las Vegas last month, meeting with free agents and impressing Van Wagenen with his perspective. Wright, who found behind-the-scenes work to be more appealing than coaching or broadcasting, thanked the Mets’ ownership and their fans in a statement on Monday.
“Playing in this city and for this team was a dream come true,” the statement said. “I look forward to contributing and taking on the challenges of this new role.”
My favorite David Wright moment will always be the home run he hit in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series. From everyone’s account Wright was not only a great player, but a great guy off the field. Wish him and his family nothing but the best.
Sorry, but it’s true. While everyone gets sentimental about upcoming Wright’s retirement, the reality is that without a World Series championship, a major award or enough clutch moments during his Met days, I just can’t put Wright ahead of Seaver, Gooden, Koosman and Strawberry. It goes without saying that Wright is on everybody’s Top 10 Greatest Mets list, but Top 4 just wouldn’t be right.
For more than two years, David Wright had one goal in mind: to play for the Mets again. He thought his neck and shoulder problems were behind him after multiple operations and that another operation would alleviate some of the pain stemming from a chronic back condition. But as he moved through his protracted rehabilitation, he grudgingly realized that his body could not keep up with his desire to play.
“Those three combined, it’s debilitating to play baseball,” he said.
So in a tearful news conference Thursday afternoon, Wright — the Mets’ captain and longest-tenured player and one of baseball’s most admired figures — announced his plan to leave the game after one more start on Sept. 29 against the Miami Marlins, the penultimate game of the season. Wright last played in a major league game on May 27, 2016.
“Physically, the way I feel right now and everything the doctors have told me, there’s not going to be any improvement,” he said.
Wright will come off the disabled list on Sept. 25, the beginning of the final home stand of the season, and start at third base four days later. Given the state of his body, Wright, 35, was unsure how much he could play in that game or if he would be available as a pinch-hitter on the other days.
Sad in a way, because he’s a lifetime Met, seemingly such a great guy and when you think that if not for these series of injuries and set-backs over the years, he was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. But for as long as the possibility of ‘David Wright coming back’ lingered over the Mets and for his lifetime health and future, maybe it’s just best for the Captain to hang it up.
Yet he keeps putting in the work, determined to get back to a major league field in a Mets uniform, maybe even this year. That may be optimistic, given his miniscule production in the minors so far, though with the minor league season about to end he is due to join the Mets for moral support during their upcoming road trip. A return to the team as an active player would be a great story and would draw fans to Citi Field during a September with little else to play for.
The problem is that Wright is due $27 million across 2019 and 2020. And if he’s playing, the insurance stops. It’s not a ton of money, relatively speaking, since the eight-year, $138 million contract Wright signed in 2013 peaked in annual value from 2014 to 2018 before dropping off for the final two years. The price tag is reasonable for a productive player, and maybe Wright can be that again. But it’s probably a longshot since he hasn’t played since May 2016 and he’ll be 36 in December. Cash that could be put to use elsewhere – let’s say re-signing Zack Wheeler after next year or going after another free agent – isn’t cash you want to use for sentiment.
In a lost season, does seeing David Wright come back for a few at-bats on the big league level, matter anyway? Other than some sentimental value, not really. The Mets need to be transparent and just admit what’s really going on.
Of course, the idea that David Wright could return to the Mets lineup before Yoenis Cespedes is both funny and ironic considering what was thought to be the extent of each player’s injury. However, what if Wright really does make it back sooner than later? For starters, it’d speak a lot to Wright’s resiliency, fortitude, hard work and why at the very least, no matter how much he has left, maybe his return could be an inspiration in an otherwise dismal 2018 season. But secondly, if Wright does come back and resembles anywhere close to his old all-star self, where the hell do you play him?
The just-signed-in-the-off-season Todd Frazier is your everyday 3rd baseman and to the detriment of Dominic Smith, Wilmer Flores has pretty much established himself as your everyday 1st baseman (the only other position that’d make sense for Wright besides playing the outfield, which he has never done). So unless you’re trading Frazier to get some prospects so Wright can go back to his old (and much more taxing) position, what then? Some might think it’s a reach, but a Mets infield consisting of Wright and Smith at 1st, Flores at 2nd, Asdrubal Cabrera at short and Frazier at 3rd, could certainly work for me….hmmm.