Negotiations between Wright, Mets ramping up
Report claims offer around $135-$145 million over eight years
NEW YORK -- A negotiation previously marked by quiet inactivity has suddenly taken a turn toward the frenetic.
The Mets have reportedly made third baseman David Wright multiple contract offers since Monday, including a seven-year extension that has the potential to end negotiations for good. FOXSports.com reported that the latest offer is worth between $135-145 million over eight seasons, including the $16 million Wright is already owed next year.
The Daily News was first to report that the Mets had offered Wright a seven-year extension "well above" $100 million, after FOX floated reports of a six-year, $100-million extension on Monday.
But even with hard numbers finally popping up around the industry, speculation still carried the day. Wright himself disputed the figures on Tuesday evening, issuing a statement to express his disappointment in "reports that I have read today which are inaccurate."
Asked to clarify, Wright said in an email: "It was important to me from the very beginning that these negotiations remain confidential and private. I plan on sticking to that."
A Mets spokesman said only that talks are "ongoing" and that the team would have no further comment. General manager Sandy Alderson did not return a telephone message seeking clarity.
In any event, it is clear that negotiations have assumed a new tone after multiple months of relative inactivity.
The first formal offer reportedly came Monday, shortly after third baseman Evan Longoria signed a $100 million contract extension with the Rays. FOX cited Major League sources in detailing the Mets' similar bid to Wright, saying that he was "certain to refuse" it.
Still, it represented progress compared to last winter's negotiations with homegrown shortstop Jose Reyes, who never received an offer from the Mets before signing a $106 million deal with the Marlins.
And that progress kept coming. Within a day, the team had upped its offer to Wright to its current level, which appears to be significantly closer to fair market value. Accepting it would not only potentially make Wright the highest-paid player in franchise history, but would also effectively make him a Met for life.
Less than a month shy of his 30th birthday, Wright's situation is not exactly comparable to Longoria's, given that the Rays third baseman is roughly three years younger, and will play out the four remaining years on his old deal before his new one begins.
Perhaps a better comparison is the six-year, $100 million deal that Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman inked last spring. The Nats tacked that contract onto the two seasons Zimmerman had left on his deal, effectively making it an eight-year, $126 million pact.
Taking into account his superior 2012 production and injury history, Wright is a sure bet to earn more. Wright bounced back from injury to hit .306 with 21 home runs in 581 at-bats this season, posting higher on-base and slugging percentages than Zimmerman and a higher on-base mark than Longoria. He has averaged 149 games played over the past nine seasons, 10 more than Zimmerman has averaged throughout his career and 20 more than Longoria. And he rebounded from several poor defensive seasons to win his third Gold Glove in 2012.
All the while, Wright has established himself as a franchise leader and potential team captain, with value beyond his on-field statistics.
"Imagine the Atlanta Braves without Chipper Jones," teammate R.A. Dickey said Tuesday at a charity event in Harlem. "You just can't. I think [Wright and the Mets] are going to reach an agreement."
The team is concurrently working on a contract extension with Dickey, who has one year and $5 million left on his current deal. If the Mets do not re-sign Dickey, they could look to trade him. But chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said last week that dealing either Wright or Dickey would be a last resort for the Mets, who would prefer to bring both players back on their current deals if extensions cannot be reached.