Mets Owe Wright This Chance
When discussing David Wright, it is important to remember exactly who he is. Wright is not just a homegrown Met, but he was once a kid who grew up a Mets fan. Essentially, Wright is to the Mets what Joe Mauer has been to the Twins.
Perhaps, that is the reason Wright signed what was an lucrative albeit under value contract to remain a Met for life. Maybe this is the reason Wright has sacrificed. Or just his career but also his personal health to help the Mets try to win a World Series.
Understandably, Yankee fans bemoan all that could have been with Don Mattingly and his back issues, but what has happened with Wright is all the more heartbreaking.
Heading into the 2015 season, Wright was clearly on the path to the Hall of Fame. That was before disaster struck. What was once thought to be a leg injury turned into a spinal stenosis diagnosis. The path of his career would be forever changed.
Still, there was some hope. After being activated in late August after missing 115 games, Wright homered in his first at-bat. Over his final 30 games he hit .277/.381/.437 with seven doubles, four homers, and 13 RBI.
Wright would finally get his chance to play in a World Series, and in his first at-bat at Citi Field, he electrified the Citi Field crowd:
In 2016, there was still hope for a World Series and for Wright.
Through the first 11 games, he was hitting .279/.404/.512. Through 24 games, he was at .258/.405/.472. Sadly and predictably, his body broke down from there.
His season ended on May 27th. After that, he has undergone neck, back, and shoulder surgery. After those surgeries, Wright has not played in another MLB game.
It’s not for want of trying.
Each year, Wright has gone through the same routine. Report to Spring Training with hope. Eventually, he gets shut down, confers with his doctors, and then he starts an ill-fated rehab assignment.
Through all of this, Wright’s body has been purportedly failing him leading everyone to agree to do the merciful thing and stop Wright from playing.
The thing is Wright still won’t give up, and with him being under contract for just two more years past this year, he’s running out of chances to play again. As it turns out, that contract may be standing in the way of his return.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reports the Mets are hesitant to activate Wright due to the financial implications.
According to David Lennon of Newsday, if Wright played the final month of the season, the team would owe him $3.2 million.
But it’s more than that. For the insurance policy to kick in again, Wright would need to miss another 60 games due to injury. Assuming Wright misses Opening Day, the Mets will have to pay Wright roughly $5 million.
If Wright doesn’t pay at all this year or the next, that $5 million would be roughly $1.25 million with insurance covering the remaining $3.75 million.
Essentially, if Wright plays, the Mets stand to lose somewhere between $6 – $7 million in money which would have been covered by insurance.
With that as a backdrop, we have heard John Ricco recently give the following quotes on Wright:
- “It’s unrealistic to think he’d be activated any time soon.”
- “We just haven’t seen that level of consistency of playing on quantity or quality base at this point.”
- “Quite frankly at this point, he hasn’t been able to make some of the benchmarks that were laid out for him.”
Just when you thought things couldn’t get more absurd, Mickey Callaway offered that while Wright is medically cleared to play in the minors, he’s not medically cleared to play in the Majors.
When told of these and other comments, Wright’s response was, “The challenge has been accepted.”
Here’s the thing. Wright has risen to the challenge. He’s gone out there and played in rehab games, and he’s still standing. He’s still working hard to get back on the field even with his rehab assignment getting cut short. Although, that may be a technicality with Wright’s rehab assignment being up as of yesterday and MLB rules requiring you to sit five days before playing again.
Right now, the challenge isn’t on Wright. No, it’s on the Wilpons to do the right thing here.
Realistically speaking, this may be Wright’s last chance to play again. If we’re being honest, he’s not going to significantly improve this year or the next. Moreover, with this team being 16 games under .500, Wright has a chance to play and not ruin the Mets season.
Him being allowed to play means he gets to end his career on the field and fans can come to Citi Field to wish him good-bye and to thank him for everything.
Insurance money aside, there’s no reason to prevent this from happening, but the insurance money exists and the Wilpons are the Wilpons.
These are the same owners who readily admit the insurance proceeds are not reinvested into the team. These are the same owners who have been willing to take back lesser prospect packages to have their trading partner eat all of the salary. Overall, the Wilpons have arguably made better financial decisions while making bad baseball ones.
While it may be difficult for them to act differently, they need to do so here.
Wright has been the face of their franchise. When times were tough with Madoff, Wright stood by them, didn’t complain, and took less money to stay. With Madoff and just general penny pinching, Wright’s prime was wasted. Even with a chance at a World Series, this organization did not go all-in.
Simply put, the Wilpons owe it to Wright to give him a chance to play again. They owe it to their fans to let them see Wright play again.
Despite all that has happened, the fans and Wright have been there supporting this team. We all deserve our moment. More importantly, Wright deserves a chance to end his career on the field.
Injuries have already cost Wright his shot at Cooperstown. They have robbed him of the end of his prime and the rest of his career. Likely, they cost Wright of the chance to ever win a World Series. Hopefully, it will not be insurance money that prevents him from ever playing again.