It is possible that the Mets’ David Wright’s career is already over. However, Wright has refused to see things this way, and that’s okay. He has earned the right to determine when his career ends.
Wright, a seven-time All-Star, has appeared in only 75 games over the past three seasons for the Mets. In that time he has endured long periods of inactivity and multiple surgeries.
It was revealed earlier this week that Wright had been shutdown from baseball activities for another 8 weeks. For Wright, it was just the latest complication in his attempt to make it back to the majors for the first time since May 2016.
Through it all, the Mets captain has continually pledged his dedication to getting back on the field.
Instead of being revered for his undying love of baseball, there has been a growing vilification of him by some fans who have been clamoring for him to give up and retire.
This is the wrong outlook in my opinion.
Some fans have blamed the Mets’ unwillingness to sign big-ticket free agents on Wright’s uncertainty. However, when Jeff Wilpon spoke with the media back in January, he made it clear that Wright’s contract was already being considered as part of the payroll.
“So there’s other things. It’s not dollar-for-dollar of the $20 million, 75 percent we’re getting back. It’s not that clear-cut. But we try to go into the season looking at it like it’s all part of the budget,” Wilpon stated in January
This means that financially, it doesn’t matter whether Wright comes back or not, because his contract counts against payroll in the COO’s eyes anyway. Wright’s uncertainty is unfortunate, but it is not the only factor in the Mets’ frugal ways.
Does it help to have $20 million per year set aside for an inactive player on a cash-strapped team? Absolutely not, but it’s the unfortunate reality of the situation. If it doesn’t matter one way or the other, why shouldn’t Wright try everything to get back on the field?
After the 2012 season, the Mets resigned Wright to an eight-year, $138 million contract extension. This amount was considered by many at the time to represent a steep hometown discount and was guaranteed. It isn’t fair for anyone to suggest that he should give it up without a fight. He earned that contract after all.
And suppose Wright did come to the realization that he needed to retire? Then what? He would likely settle for a substantial payout. It will likely cost significantly more than parting ways with Michael Cuddyer did after 2015. Cuddyer had only 1 year and $12.5 million left on his contract at the time of his retirement. Wright still has three years and $47 million remaining on his contract.
Wright spoke with the media on Wednesday about his latest “setback.” In that interview, he sounded like a man emotionally battered by his body’s inability match his heart’s desire.
“But we’re at a point where certainly with the history of the last couple of years and the three surgeries that I’ve had. I want to get it right. I want to take my time,” Wright said.
He added, “I hate to simplify it but if my body cooperates then I can’t wait to get back out there and if it doesn’t, then we’ll try to figure something else out.”
Wright also spoke about his conversations with his doctor, Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed back surgery on Wright last October. He relayed Dr. Watkins feeling that he is simply taking more time than originally thought, and that this is not a setback.
If Wright’s doctors aren’t telling him to give up, why should anyone else without the expertise do so? It isn’t Wright’s fault that his body started shutting down in his early 30’s. The man genuinely just wants to do what he has his entire life: play baseball.
It seems like the Mets are ready to move on, having signed Todd Frazier to a two-year deal this past offseason to play third base. It’s seems like only a matter of time before Wright feels the same way. Until that happens, we fans should simply continue to root for him and let this play out naturally.
Wright doesn’t want to hurt the New York Mets and he has access to some of the best doctors in the world. If he can come back, then he will. And if not, he will know to walk away knowing that he tried everything within his power to continue on.
It shouldn’t play out any other way. He deserves it to be on his terms.