‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns
When Mets fans across the Tri-State Area awoke to the news that third baseman David Wright agreed a seven-year, $122 million extension, it must have felt like Christmas morning had arrived weeks early.
WFAN’s Ed Coleman broke the news in the wee hours of the morning that Wright would be calling Citi Field home through the 2020 season, essentially making him a Met for life.
To The Delight Of Mets Fans, Wright Is Now A Met For Life
Mets fans must feel relieved that talks never got to the point where the Mets actually had to consider trade offers for the cornerstone of their franchise, especially with the Winter Meetings looming. It never got to that point. Both sides handled negotiations with class and mutual urgency to complete the deal.
When it came down to it, Wright was true to his word and didn’t want to consider playing anywhere else but Citi Field.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Less than a year ago, Jose Reyes was taking his talents to South Beach and Mets fans questioned the direction of the franchise. It was fair for Mets fans to feel betrayed by ownership for not making every effort to retain their sensational homegrown shortstop.
Others felt that giving a long-term deal to the injury-prone Reyes was a risk, especially considering the perilous state of the club’s finances following the Bernie Madoff investment scandal.
The Mets waived a white flag and allowed Reyes — the co-chair face of their franchise — to become the symbol of what appeared to be a new era in Miami.
Unfortunately for Marlins fans, the promise of a new era in their brand-new ballpark turned out to be more of a publicity stunt and a money grab. Reyes was shipped to the Toronto Blue Jays in a massive fire sale. He still belongs on the left side of the Mets’ infield playing alongside Wright.
Mets Didn’t Drop The Ball This Time
The world isn’t perfect, is it? It could have been a lot worse had the Mets botched negotiations and pushed Wright to the point that he broke off talks and refused a new deal, forcing the Mets to trade their iconic third baseman. This scenario wouldn’t have surprised a large faction of Mets fans who grew increasingly pessimistic over the future of their Amazins’.
Without Wright, the Mets wouldn’t be seen as a legitimate franchise. They would be viewed in a similar light as the Kansas City Royals — a feeder club for the rest of baseball.
Wright took the mantle as the unquestioned face of the franchise after the departure of Reyes. For the Mets to have lost two elite homegrown stars in consecutive offseasons would have been a devastating blow, considering the promising future that Wright and Reyes generated as youngsters. To lose the humbler, more focused Wright would have been an even bitterer pill for Mets fans to swallow.
Mets Still Have Many Needs To Address
It seems like it was much easier to sell Wright on the direction of the franchise than it will be their fan base. Some of the pessimism of Mets fans has been lifted by today’s news, but their ballclub still needs a significant facelift.
While it would be difficult for some Mets fans to take, it would be logical to trade R.A. Dickey at the peak of his value. The Mets need pieces that can help them beyond Dickey’s shelf life.
In an ideal world, Dickey should remain a Met — but the Mets have many areas of need, and they will keep their payroll below $100 million.
They need to address their shambolic outfield, sort out their patchwork bullpen, add another thumper in the middle of their lineup and find an upgrade over catcher Josh Thole.
Despite being able to secure Wright, free agent outsiders view the Mets as a long-term project, and the Mets will need to use Dickey as a chip to fill at least one of their needs.
Retaining Wright is just the start of a long process of rebuilding.
What steps would you like to see the Mets take as they attempt to build around Wright? Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.