1. What will it take to sign David Wright?
2. What should the Mets offer David Wright?
What we know so far is that the Mets say they plan to offer Wright a six-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million. Now, considering Joey Votto’s ten-year, $225 million extension (in terms of player value, a far more similar comp than Ryan Zimmerman), the lack of other third basemen available, and the onrushing TV money about to hit the sport in 2014, paying Wright exactly what he’ll make in 2013 for only another six years doesn’t sound like close to enough. Jayson Werth, just two years ago, got 7/$126 million. Carl Crawford got 7/$142 million.
So in terms of question number one, though anything is possible, it seems very unlikely that David Wright’s agents think he is getting any less than 8/$160 million, and with good reason. Will he settle for far less than that? It is possible. Just seems awfully unlikely.
But conflating that with question two is a mistake. There’s a very different conversation to be had, namely: should the Mets pay David Wright $20 million per year, beginning with his age 31 season, and ending with his age 38 season? Is that a good use of funds?
In general, teams need to pay for premium production, with the contract evening out by teams overpaying on the back end. And really, it is an impossible question to answer without knowing, at least to some degree, if/when the Mets can ever spend money again in a competitive way. $20 million in a $90 million payroll is vastly different than $20 million in a $140 or $170 million payroll.
But in terms of answering question one, I don’t think there’s much dispute that the Mets are far short right now of what it will take, an odd thing to see after the urgency of the sign David Wright message being put out by the team.
And if the team has determined the answer to question two is well shy of the answer to question one, the urgency to conduct negotiations is happening for a different reason: public consumption, ahead of a trade.
I’m sure the Mets would be thrilled to keep David Wright if he is willing to return for well below his market value. And there’s no shame in being rightly hesitant to pay him above his market value, especially given the team’s financial reality right now.
But let’s remember that both questions are in play here.