By Zach Gewelb
Could this finally be the end for David Wright?
The Mets’ captain received devastating news earlier this week, as the team announced No. 5 will not begin baseball activities for at least eight weeks.
Wright, who hasn’t appeared in a regular season game for the club since May 2016, has been sidelined with back and shoulder issues for quite a while now. He attempted to make a comeback in 2017, but was forced to shut down his rehab due to shoulder discomfort, which led to surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.
Wright was re-examined in Los Angeles earlier this week and it was decided the best course of action was to keep him shut down.
That Wright keeps attempting to make a comeback is admirable. It’s obvious how much he loves the game and it’s clear he’s not ready to hang up his cleats. But maybe he should.
The Mets brought in Todd Frazier, signing him to a two-year deal in free agency to play third base while Asdrubal Cabrera shifts to second base. The team also has Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes as potential third base options. There simply isn’t any room on the roster for Wright, even if he were healthy.
And should Wright eventually get a clean bill of health, there’s no guarantee that he’d be able to remain healthy. He hasn’t played in more than 38 games since the 2015 season when the Mets made it to the World Series. Since then he’s played in just 75 games. It’s simply impossible to rely on Wright at this point in his career.
Another possible obstacle in Wright’s eventual retirement is money. If he were to retire now, he would forfeit the remaining $47 million on his contract — he’s slated to earn $20 million in 2018, $15 million in 2019, and $12 million in 2020. Now, Wright does not seem like someone who puts money above all else in his life, but walking away from $47 million would not be an easy decision to make.
Perhaps the best thing for Wright and the Mets would be to keep him inactive and allow him to step in as a coach — maybe an assistant hitting coach — or as an advisor, similar to what the Yankees have done with Alex Rodriguez.
Wright’s leadership and presence in the clubhouse would be invaluable. He has extensive experience and a lot to offer to the team’s younger players, which is what makes him a candidate to fill either role. As a coach, he can use his expertise to help tutor the players on the big league roster. But he may be better suited as a roving advisor.
As an advisor, he can travel to the Mets’ minor league affiliates and work with the team’s younger prospects, guiding them on the field and off. Wright has been a consummate professional throughout his career, never getting into any trouble off the field and displaying an admirable work ethic on it. He can pass down those qualities to the minor leaguers and help them prepare to become better professionals.
So, while Wright may still feel he has something left in the tank, he should embrace the situation and be willing to work with the younger players in an effort to give the Mets — and Mets fans — a brighter future.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe