In case you somehow missed it, the latest from the Daily News says the Mets have offered David Wright a seven-year extension on top of his 2013 option for a total of around $140 million for the next eight seasons. If that’s true, it seems like a lot for a player who’ll be 38 at the conclusion of the deal.
If David Wright is a 5+ win player for most of his contract, he would be well worth any of the range of potential outcomes from ~$16-20 million annually, that have been kicked around the press. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Wright has been that player once in the last four years and three times in the last six.
One of the areas of volatility in Wright’s performance has been defensive, bouncing from -1.4 dWAR in 2010 to 2.1 dWAR in 2012, a swing of roughly 35 runs over full seasons of action….
Where the WAR graph of David Wright’s career resembled a roller coaster, his offensive production merely looks like a bumpy road. It is this, Wright’s relatively more consistent production offensively, that make a six, seven or even eight-year contract less scary.
Wright’s list of most similar batters on baseball-reference, for whatever that’s worth, paints a picture that can be interpreted in various lights. If you want to spy the beautiful woman, you could point to Carl Yastrzemski, Chipper Jones and George Brett, Hall of Famers who enjoyed years of success on the long side of 30. If you’re certain the image is an old hag, you could point to Eric Chavez, who has struggled with injuries and mustered barely more than season’s worth of mostly disappointing at-bats in the five years since he turned 30.
But, of course, both the beautiful woman and the old hag are there, so optimists and pessimists must both see how the deal could play out in a variety of ways. Plus, comps are just comps and Wright’s his own snowflake and we won’t really know whether the contract — assuming it’s for real, and should he sign it — is an overpay or adequate retribution for Wright’s services until those services are all rendered.
Consider also that contracts and the general baseball marketplace appear to be defying our expectations more and more these days (that’s a hunch of course; I have no way to measure it) as teams cash in on inflating TV deals. That all seems at least a bit tenuous, but really I have no idea how it’ll all play out and how it’ll ultimately impact player salaries.
It could be there’s a bubble that bursts, and in five or 10 or 20 or — pertinent here — eight years, players can’t expect as much money on the open market. Or, perhaps more likely, teams will figure more and better ways to reap our constant and desperate need for baseball and the salaries keep growing. Or maybe an asteroid destroys the earth in 2015 and none of this matters so much. Point is, eight years is a long way away, and a hell of a lot can happen to Wright, to the Mets, to baseball, to the economy and to everything in that time.
So, really, who knows? Today, without knowing many of the specific terms of the deal, eight years and $140 million for 30-year-old David Wright seems like at least a mild overpay, especially considering the Mets’ growing needs and finite resources. If the team’s financial situation doesn’t clear up soon, within a few seasons we could easily be lamenting the way they’re allotting so much of their payroll to a now-only-pretty-good David Wright.
Still, Wright — even at 30, at 31, 32, 33 and 34 — represents the Mets’ safest bet to be an elite offensive player, and they will need to score runs to win games. So maybe even beyond all the face-of-the-franchise stuff he’s worth a bit more to the Mets, with no obvious offensive stars on the horizon, than he would be to a team with lesser but still adequate replacement options in the clubhouse or on the farm.
Also, and most importantly, he’s David Wright. By definition, overpaying a guy means giving him more than he deserves, and on principle I don’t think teams should be rewarding players for past performances. But I’m not sure I can think of a baseball player I’d rather see overpaid than Wright, given all he’s put up with the last few seasons and how unspeakably cool he’s been about it throughout. Admitting as much forfeits my right to whine about the contract seven years from now, but that’s OK by me. These pages are not for decrying the best position player in Mets’ history.