The Mets’ 8-year, $138 million agreement to sign David Wright, the largest contract in club history, according to ESPN, is unique. Usually large contracts have as much to do with stats, awards, agents, setting or following the market, and of course the financial whims and pride of the player. But for the first time I can remember, this signing is about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.
Ever since Carlos Beltran watched Adam Wainright’s curveball drop in front of him in Game 7, the Mets have had few bright spots. A team poised for potentially great things got caught up in the Bernie Madoff fiasco, was subject to Jose Reyes injuries and departure, and has seen it’s top free agent, Johan Santana, develop severe arm problems. That’s to say nothing of unfulfilled potential such as Fernando Martinez and Lastings Milledge. (Don’t even mention Jason Bay.)
But David Wright has been the constant light for the Mets. Sure, there have been injuries and slumps and even full seasons of disappointment. When he came up, I compared him to George Brett – a .300-plus third baseman who played (mostly) good defense and could hit 30 HR a season for a decade and a half. He had some Jeter-like qualities. When Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and even Reyes refused to stand up and lead, the young Wright did. He has boyish good looks, always says the right thing, and puts up solid numbers. He never whined. He never pointed the finger at a teammate or coach or the front office. All those things made him the franchise.
Failing to sign David Wright would have threatened that very franchise.
The Mets right now have only their loyal fan base – those season ticket holders and those who watch all the games on SNY – without much more to show. Their refusal and/or inability to spend money in the richest city in the world – and the money they have spent (see Bay, Jason) has been a collassal waste – has made them a laughing stock of baseball and the sporting world.
As a Mets loyalist, I love some things on the horizon. I believe Reuben Tejada is a star in the making; names like Zack Wheeler have me interested (but not to Isringhausen-esque levels); I even think Ike Davis, David Murphy, and Lucas Duda can be all-stars. If the front office figures out that solid pitchers who get you 7 innings every time out are the ONLY recipe for a winning tradition at Citi Field, we may have something.
But making sure David Wright is in the fold until and beyond 2020 is great foresight and ensures my team has a face for the rest of the decade.
Having nothing to do with whatever statistics he posts in 2013, or even 2018, the Wright signing is worth every penny because I do not have to abandon my team. The Mets are still my Mets. Win or lose, they are mine. Now let’s get some wins and grow that fan base. The “core four” on the other side of the city are in the twilight. Let’s make sure we own the sunrise, and that locking up our third baseman in 2012 was the Wright call for 2020.