The Contract Offer: Wright or Wrong?

Can the Mets afford Wright AND the rest of the team?

I’ve been avoiding the subject of contract extensions for David Wright and R.A. Dickey because A) I don’t feel like speculating about if every single day, especially when I know next to nothing about what’s going on behind closed doors – like everyone else, and B) Everyone else has already chimed in on it.  But now, because an offer has been REPORTEDLY made, and I’m feeling narcissistic today, I will chime in.

According to various sources, the Mets made an offer to David Wright that consists of 7 years at about $20 million per.  My immediate reaction?  If they can afford Wright at that price while still keeping money in the coffers to fill other positions of need, then let’s do it.  If they’re breaking the bank for one player, and we have to have another year of Josh Thole behind the plate, an outfield of Lucas Duda/Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Mike Baxter, and Frank Francisco closing games, then don’t.

However, since I’m writing stream-of-consciousness…

I would actually take another year of those players.  But if signing Wright ties Sandy Alderson’s hands for 2014, that’s when you don’t make the offer.  Because 2013 was always going to be another 2012.

The Mets still owe $25.5 million to Johan Santana next year.  They have some percentage of Jason Bay‘s $18 million 2013 salary on the books.  Some of his money was deferred, but they will still owe the bulk of it next year.  After 2013, the Mets will have an extra $40 million or so to spend on players for 2014.

David Wright will make $16 million next year due to the option that has already been picked up.  If Wright agrees to the contract offer, he’ll get a $4 million raise, which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t so bad.  In addition, no one else on the current roster is due to make more than $5 million in 2014, according to Cots.

Unless they extend R.A. Dickey.  He would likely get 2-3 more years for about $10 million per, according to most beat writers.  So, tack that onto Wright’s 2014 salary, and the Mets should have enough money to spend on other players, especially if the Wilpons continue to pay down their debt (which is just an assumption on my part – you know how Fred and Jeff are.)

Based on all of that, logically, 2014 is the target for the Mets front office.  They’ll have a young starting rotation, maybe with R.A. Dickey, a perennial all-star third baseman, a young shortstop and first baseman who will be entering their prime years, and seemingly enough money to reinforce the outfield, bullpen, and catcher.

So, back to the contract.  Is Wright good enough to deserve this much money and that many years?  People forget he was tied for 4th with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano in FanGraphs WAR in the major leagues this year (7.8).  Only Mike Trout, Buster Posey, and Ryan Braun had more wins above replacement. In addition, he had the highest WAR among major league third basemen.  So yes, he’s more than just a pretty face.

So, can the Mets have their Wright and outfielders, too?  Yes.  But probably not in 2013.  They can make this work, but don’t expect any more big moves (apart from extending Dickey, if they can come to an agreement) for 2013.  Expect to see more offseason activity following the 2013 season, since the focus of the front office seems to be beyond next season.

Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. Dan B November 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm
    Too many questions unanswered. How much deferred? $30 mill deferred over 30 years is like $7.5 mill today. Also, if the payroll is $140 mill in 2015, then the $20 mill/year is not a big deal compared to $100 mill/year payroll. Also, are we assuming Wright’s salary will go back into the payroll if he is not signed? What if the Mets simply cut their payroll budget by $20 mill if they don’t sign Wright? Why would the Mets pay four players $5 mill each if those players don’t put fannies in the seats? I am guessing the Mets believe in Wright’s public appeal and are worried about revenue. They need to show the banks revenue because they have major loans that need refinancing. However, if details are being leaked, I am guessing it is the Mets leaking which means they are trying to get the fans on their side because they don’t think they will sign him. Bottom line–if Wright isn’t signed, I don’t see that $20 mill being spent somewhere else. $5 mill tops will be used to sign other players.
    • NormE November 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm
      Too true, Dan B. Sadly, too true.
  2. argonbunnies November 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm
    Wait wait wait. You’re saying — and almost everyone else is too — that the reason the Mets can’t fill out a competitive roster for 2013 is the Santana contract? And at the same time you’re suggesting that we go and give out the exact same contract again?

    This is absurd. Either (a) the Mets are a hopeless organization and it has nothing to do with Santana, in which case Wright’s contract is irrelevant because so is the team, or (b) there is some hope, but the team can’t survive giant contracts for past-their-prime stars like Santana and Wright. So which is it?

    I hope you’re not acting like one fluke WAR stat means anything, Joe. If we’re going to look at Wright’s value, look at the last 4 years. His 2012 first half was by far his best stretch of hitting since 2007, and his defense, though good, was almost certainly not worth the valuation of a stat that fluctuates wildly from year to year. Wright is an excellent player, but there is no chance that he will be worth anything close to $20mil/yr in terms of runs created/prevented in his next 7 years.

    • argonbunnies November 29, 2012 at 12:17 am
      Er, Paul, not Joe. Sorry! I’m used to yelling at Joe on this site.
  3. argonbunnies November 29, 2012 at 12:16 am
    The biggest estimation of Wright’s on-field contribution that I’ve seen that has any shred of realism to it is $118mil over the next 8 years. So, here’s what I’d do:

    1) Offer him that. Call it a 7-year, $102 mil extension, or an 8-year $118mil contract replacing his current deal; whatever.

    2) Be honest with him. “We’re trying to build a winner, and paying you more than this hurts our ability to do that.” Also, mention the perks. “You’ll be the greatest Met ever and an icon for the city. This will help you sign more Nike deals, so the money likely works out.” But acknowledge that he might well get more dollars in his contract on the free agent market, because that’s the truth. Some team out there will usually overpay for a player like Wright.

    3) If Wright would prefer to sign with a team that’s poised to win now, or he’d prefer to get the biggest possible contract, then those are both valid reasons for him to leave the Mets. He should, and they should let him go. Bribing him to stay on a bad team that can’t afford him is a horrible, horrible idea.

    If give Wright 102 million more dollars, there will probably be some times when we’ll somewhat regret it. If we give him 140 million more dollars? Get used to the phrase “When Wright’s deal finally expires we might have a shot to assemble a winner.”

  4. Dan B November 29, 2012 at 7:47 am
    Mr Bunny, another great post. Devil is in the details. If Santana’s contract wasn’t so backloaded, it wouldn’t be hurting us as much. If he was making even $20 mill instead of $25 mill, you could have a new $5 mill catcher. Big contracts don’t have to hamper big market teams. Yankees are doing all right with Sabathia’s contract. Mets seem to backload contracts too much. They also never seem to leave room in the budget for midseason additions. Also, because the Mets view themselves as a midlevel revenue team, Santana’s contract looks even worse. If their payroll was $140 mill, it would be easier to hide Santana’s contract. In 2014, we can pay Wright $18 mill/yr and Dickey $12 mill and still have room for $20 mill to spend on two outfielders, a catcher, and a closer and still be around $100 mill payroll.
    • argonbunnies November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm
      Yeah, to me the backloaded contract has always seemed like a bad housing investment. If you can’t pay what it’s worth now, what makes you think you’ll be able to pay more than it’s worth later? Denial, unfounded optimism, and “we’ll deal with it later” were all key ingredients to how we got into this mess. It’s really disappointing to see those mistakes repeated.
  5. Izzy November 29, 2012 at 10:01 am
    I don’t agree that Mr Bunnies post is a great post. He ignores the workld. some statistical analysis shows him that Wright is worth less than Zimmerman so he wants to shove a low ball offer down Wright’s throat and he actually beleives Wright and especially his agents would buy the BS he wants alderson to throw at Wright. News for you guys. 7 years 102 and Wright lets it be known the Mets spit in his face. And also this statistical evaluation of worht. How does it take into account the impact on a shrinking fan base would be if a guy like Wright was dumped for some moinor leaguers that 99% of the paying customers never heard of. his value is high because the Mets can’t sell a ticket and no matter how low they want to go woth payroll the emptier the park the more they’ll lose. you want to make profits with a lemon for a product, just ask GM and Chrysler how that worked out. Now they make bett stuff and they make some $$. Maybe the two of you will spend 63 bucks to see Marlins North but you’ll be very lonely. They need to pay Wright because they need to keep some fans. End of subject. The 5 million dollar catcher ain’t making no $$ for Freddy.
    • argonbunnies November 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm
      I didn’t say he’d take it. I said it was a sane offer that wouldn’t screw the team’s ability to win. If Wright knows the Mets are desperate and thus interprets $100mil as a slap in the face, then that’s his right, and we’ll see whether he feels less slapped when a non-desperate team signs him for $80mil next year.

      As for keeping fans in the seats, I think you might be correctly describing the flawed thought process of the GM you hate. I have no idea why you’d be recommending that the Mets prioritize short-term attendance over ever building a winning team (which is what really attracts fans).

  6. derek November 29, 2012 at 10:04 am
    the mets, wilpons, alderson and wright all know they arent gonna compete till 2014. 2013 is all about seeing what younger guys can contribute and hope to find a diamond in rough for the ’14 season…

    we are essentially going to overpay wright to play on this crappy 2013 version of the mets which sucks for us fans. 140 mil is, 140 mil…if wright doesnt want it spread out…well it isnt like we were finishing in first place with him to begin with. he seems like a nice guy and has done some nice things in a met uniform but EVERYONE can be replaced.

    if he can get more money from a differ team or from a team in better position to win…go for it one will hate you for it (well im sure a few people here will, lol). but will you also be on sportscenter as much leaving ny, or will you have the same endorsements leaving ny…

    lets also not leave out the connections these guys put behind them when they leave ny. when david or any other ny athlete goes out on the town, they are mingling with the heavy hitters in EVERY industry in the world. you dont think these guys parlay that into big biz after the playing days are over???

    david, you ever hear of a guy named joey votto??? well he is a better ball player then you and the avg fan has no idea who he is or where he plays, but they know who you are. think about that when your balking at this deal which makes you the mr met, highest paid met, etc….

  7. Dan B November 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm
    Izzy, I was agreeing with the Bunny Man that the Mets can afford David Wright and afford to pay others enough to field a decent team. I have been agreeing with your argument for a while that Wright is worth more to the Mets then he is to other teams because the Mets are desperate for ticket sales/revenue and Wright and Dickey are their only hope to attract fans. Of the players available, only Hamilton draws real interest and he is too expensive. I do disagree with Derek that Wright can be easily replaced. From where? What FA are the Mets going to sign to replace him? The replacement is not coming from our farm system, not any time soon. And the idea that “we finished in last with him, we can finish without him” is hogwash. We finished so poorly because of our catcher and our outfield and our bullpen. Because the team stinks, we are suppose to get rid of our good players for other teams rejects? By the way, the argument that he would make more money outside of baseball in NY doesn’t hold water either. What little more he would make (and I have read studies that say there isn’t a difference) because he plays in NY would be offset by state income tax. Besides, Wright made more money off of his Vitamin Water stock options then he will make in a lifetime of ads. But most importantly, players want to be paid the most because they are competitive and want the bragging rights of being paid the most.
    • argonbunnies November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm
      If Wright’s set on beating some dollar amount for his contract, then yeah, that wouldn’t be a surprise. Top athletes tend to be competitive in all ways, true enough. In that case, Wright should go for it. We’ll see if some team flips out, gives him what he wants in desperation, and lives to regret it for years afterward. I’d rather the Mets not be that team.

      As for marketability, I think it’s more complicated than simply “New York vs elsewhere”. It’s about identity. Getting outed for cheating is brutal for a “good guy” athlete’s marketability, and doesn’t at all hurt a “bad boy” athlete’s marketability. Right now, Wright is a poster boy for things like perseverance, wholesomeness, loyalty, integrity, taking the high road, etc. Being a one-team guy plays into that. If he becomes a free agent and leaves his hometown team for the highest bidder, that identity takes a hit. I’m not saying this is a huge deal or anything, but it’s a minor perk to staying, and a potential balm to some sense that money might have been left on the table.

  8. derek November 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    mets are positioned for the 2014 season and if anyone thinks we r gonna be a good team in ’13 with or without ra and wright your dreamin…this team has been postioned for ’14 all along…

    its gm job to find players to replace lost guys…every yr the giants, a’s and others do it…every yr there is some rookie or farm guy who out of no where takes fantasy basbeall by storm and its the gm job to find those guys….no one wanted big papi at one time….we are in this postion cause we are relying on 1 or 2 guys (bay, santana)…

    as far as money off field….we arent talking about nick swisher tryn to get extra cash on side…we are talking about david wright who is up there in name with jeter, manning, melo, in ny sports…ask michael strahan if playing in ny helps out..he is a train ride from his agents offices and day in and day out wright is with some of the richest, most powerful people in the world and they come and see him play…i respectfully disagree if you dont think this will help him financially…again we arent talking about swisher, hairston type guys…we are tlaking about A list guys in ny…

    his vit water deal. he signed after his rookie yr which he played 69 games, wasnt a household name nor did he win any awards…so i think ny helped there…also that campaign had brian urlacker (chi mkt), rapper 50 cent (ny mkt) and wright…i dont see cin, mil, or az mkts on that list….votto, price, upton they didnt seem to get to many endorsement looks early on in there careers..and one can argue there numbers are better…

    mets are offering him the most money to be a met ever, the yrs he wants..i think its good deal 140 mil… we shouldnt pay him more based on his value as an every day player….we shoulndt pay him so he can brag he got most money and 2013 mets finished in 4th place…grass isnt always greener on other side..didnt giambi and mussina sign up in ny to win that guaranteed champ….

    hey if he wants to be here, sign the 140mil deal…but lets not go overboard here…if wright leaves..mets will move on and prob be in a good positon in 2014 with the arms they have and the extra money they will have to sign free agents…if wrights traded will be worse off in ’13 for sure…but we werent gonna win in ’13 anyway…they will have extra money for the ’14 season and the staritng rotation ready to go…

  9. derek November 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm
    Wright should look to Juan Gonzalez’s experience in the mid 90s. Back then, Gonzalez turned down a $151.5 million contract from the Tigers when he was the same age as Wright, 29. Gonzalez never got another offer close to that after an injury-plagued season.

    as per mets blog

  10. DaveSchneck November 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm
    Great dialogue. Both Izzy and Derek are right. Wright is worth more to Mets and Mets are worth more to Wright. DW is taking this deal, even if Jeffy W. has pissed him off over the last week (via his proxy Sandy). Make no mistake, Alderson is just the messenger boy here and he knows it. As mentioned about, DW would be a riverboat gambler to pass on these clams and that would just tell me he has had it with the franchise and ownership. And, don’t but this Wilpon bullcrap about budgets. Mets and everyone else will be getting an additional $50 mil per year TV money starting in 2014. DW’s contract will not hamper future signings, even down the road, unless Jeffy runs this franchise into the ground. Now, that is certainly possible, but even he should have a hard time doing that. Billion dollar team, billion dollar TV station, $50 mil/yr additional TV money annually. Now, go get some more players FOR 2013. Yes, we know they are targeting 2014, but it will be a hell of a lot eaasier going from 83 wins in 2013 to 92 wins in 2014 than it will be to go from 72 wins in 2013 to 2014.
    • argonbunnies November 30, 2012 at 12:49 am
      Where’s this +$50mil figure coming from? Only 34% of TV money gets split, and there’s 30 teams, so that’d require a $4.5 billion annual increase. The giant Dodgers deal with FOX isn’t even a tenth of that.
      • DaveSchneck November 30, 2012 at 10:50 am
        Good point – don’t you know not to believe things clowns like me post on the internet?. $50 mil is not the correct figure for “additional TV money”. Actually, the national TV deals have all been re-upped, and the average annual take is about $50 millioin per team. Probably about half of that is “new” money, so the increase is closer to $20 to $25 million per year. Your reference above to only a 34% split of TV money applies to local deals, not the national deals. So, with this huge deal that the Dodgers sign or signed, they get 66% and the rest of the teams share the other 34%. Bottom line is that there is plenty of new money in the game, and enough for the Wilpons to operate like the pseudo-big market team that they pretend to be. Don’t by the $100 mil limit on 2013 or the continued cries of lost money from this ownership.
        • argonbunnies November 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm
          Ah, gotcha. An extra $25mil will be nice! Although, if every team gets that, isn’t that just inflation? Every free agent we can now bid on will also have 29 other teams who can now bid on them, and the bidding will drive up the price, right? I mean, that’s assuming the Mets spend an MLB-average percentage of that $25mil on payroll.
  11. Dan B November 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm
    For the record, Wright was offered stock options in Vitamin Water rather then a modest salary to endorse it. Soon after he was paid, Vitamin Water was bought out (can’t remember if it was Coke or Pepsi). Vitamin Water’s stock went through the roof. I don’t remember the exact figure, but I remember reading Wright’s stock was worth more then his last contract. It is similar to the deal William Shatner made with Priceline which made him a boatload of money.