Let’s take a closer look, though, at what this means, and what it doesn’t mean.
What it doesn’t mean:
The Mets will be contenders in 2013. Alas, probably not. They won 74 games last year with Wright and Dickey performing at elite levels. They aren’t expected to spend much beyond the 2012 payroll, and with obligations on the books and a poor free agent class, expecting the Mets to compete in the National League East in 2013 is a stretch.
Ownership is financially secure. Nope. We don’t know how much money in the Wright deal is deferred. But we do know that ownership has yet to refinance their team debt (approximately $320 million) due in 2014 or SNY debt ($450 million) due in 2015, and that the effort to do so, by borrowing further against their SNY equity, will compromise their only remaining source of profit.
Signing David Wright means he’ll be around, whatever else happens. But it doesn’t mean much about what will happen around him.
What it does mean:
David Wright will be in a Mets uniform for most of my daughter’s childhood. When Wright came up with the Mets, I was just out of college. When Wright’s new deal ends, I’ll be 40, and my daughter will be 10. Her first jersey was a David Wright. His picture adorns her play room. We watched him homer in September at Citi Field, and we wondered if it was for the last time.
It looks like it wasn’t for the last time.
As Matthew Callan points out, this isn’t just a reversal of recent history, from Jose Reyes to Carlos Beltran to, next week, probably R.A. Dickey. It’s the anti-Seaver, anti-Strawberry, anti-Gooden moment.
The Mets made a great choice to keep him. My guess? This contract actually looks better in hindsight. Not only are they paying him $17.25 million per season in a marketplace where B.J. Upton is deemed worthy of $15 million per season, the infusion of television money is raising salaries across the board. And given the reported backloading/deferrals in the deal, this is probably costing the Mets far less up front, while making the contract more expensive at the point ownership has either changed hands or continues to be hamstrung, making large investments impossible.
Either way, by the end of the decade, $17.25 million won’t be a substantial portion of a winning team’s payroll. Either the Mets will be run in a reasonable way financially, making Wright a perfectly acceptable portion of the overall payroll, or the Mets weren’t winning anyway, and got to enjoy their franchise player for the duration of his career.