Yes, I’m as disgusted by this idea as you are. But it’s been raised again, this time by Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Renck writes:
“Opposing executives expect the Rockies to be aggressive in their pursuit of the Mets’ David Wright. The Mets have said he’s not available, but that could change if they commit to re-sign free- agent shortstop Jose Reyes for big money. Wright, however, is not without his issues. Though just 28, he has dealt with a back injury that limited him to only 102 games last season. Wright is owed $15 million next year with a $16 million club option for 2013 that can be voided if the Mets trade him. Hitting anywhere but Citi Field would likely boost Wright’s numbers.”
Look, Wright is obviously a good fit with the Rockies- like Jose Reyes, he’s a good fit pretty much anywhere, since he’s one of the best players at his position. Still, that doesn’t mean it won’t make sense to trade him, given certain other realities. Here are some things that are worth keeping in mind:
“Should the Mets trade David Wright?” is not a binary question. I cannot stress this first point enough. Trade him or don’t trade him has everything to do with what the Mets can get for him in return, and what the overall plan for the roster is. I would actually argue the opposite of what Renck does- that it is precisely if the Mets don’t sign Jose Reyes that the prospect of dealing Wright starts to make more sense.
(And let’s not pretend this wasn’t all avoidable, by the way. It only makes sense not to keep your developed superstars in their 20s if you are suffering from the kind of financial problems that the Mets are.)
But if Reyes and his 5.8 WAR (wins above replacement) sign elsewhere, here’s a list of the other possible returning 2011 Mets among offensive players, ranked by WAR: Daniel Murphy (1.9), Ruben Tejada (1.6), David Wright (1.4), Ike Davis (1.3), Lucas Duda (0.8), Jason Bay (0.6), Nick Evans (0.6), Jason Pridie (0.6), Josh Thole (0.5), Justin Turner (0.3), Scott Hairston (0.2), Angel Pagan (0.2).
Leave aside the fact that Nick Evans was worth as much in 194 plate appearances as Jason Bay was in 509 plate appearances for a moment. What do we see there? Well, for one thing, the most valuable 2011 everyday Met other than Reyes (and the dearly departed Carlos Beltran, at 3.4 in just over half a season) was Daniel Murphy, who would slot in well at third base. He appears to play the position well, his bat is quite valuable at the position, and he’s still a low-cost alternative.
But the more significant takeaway is how little the Mets have in terms of offensive talent at this point should Reyes leave. they don’t have a catcher with more than half a win. Jason Pridie was their most valuable center fielder, and was still short of a win.
So the question starts to change. It isn’t whether the two years that remain on David Wright’s contract with the Mets are valuable. It is whether the Mets are in any position to take advantage of that value. The argument against dealing him has always been that due to a clause in his contract, if he is traded, his 2013 option held by the Mets is voided. Simply, he’s got two years left with the Mets- but any other team gets him, and they control him for only one year. So he has more inherent value to the Mets, right?
Well, no. Not if the Mets are planning for 2014, and another team sees Wright as a strong fit in 2012.
Mike Silva, over at New York Baseball Digest, floats a trade idea with Colorado:
“There are three players I would target from the Rockies if I were Sandy Alderson: centerfielder Dexter Fowler, catcher Wilin Rosario, and one of their top pitching prospects from the group LHP Tyler Matzek, RHP Chad Bettis, and LHP Drew Pomeranz.”
Fowler’s defensive metrics aren’t great, but I’d be reluctant to read too much into them- and entering his age 26 season, I like his bat to get even better. I don’t love Rosario’s 2011 offensive regression, but he can handle the position defensively, while catchers often develop later offensively. Most important would be the pitcher- Pomeranz is ready to sit atop the 2012 New York rotation now.
But let’s just remember here: this is not part of some great master plan. This is a Plan B, necessary because the Plan A anyone rational would choose: keep your 28-year-old star players at hard to fill positions and build around them- has become untenable financially.