NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — David Wright is here to stay, and he has great expectations for a Mets team that has struggled for respectability in recent years.
“I’m … humbled, privileged, emotional,” Wright said Wednesday at a news conference to talk about his $138 million, eight-year contract, the largest in team history. “It was very important to me from Day 1 that I finish what I’ve started. Things haven’t gone the way we would’ve liked them to the last couple years, but that’s gonna change.”
He later told WFAN’s Mike Francesa: “You think about winning a world championship here. You see the way that even bench players from ’86 are just, you know, are iconic now. … Individual accomplishments, you can have that. New York and the fans, they remember winners.”
LISTEN: David Wright with Francesa
Wright thanked his representatives, general manager Sandy Alderson, the Mets organization, and made sure to include a message for the Flushing faithful.
“From Day 1, the Mets fans have had my back,” Wright said at his presser. “I’m here today to promise you that I’m going to give everything I have out there to bring a championship back to Queens. I’m gonna do everything I can to get this organization back going in the direction that I think we’re going.”
Playing In the shadow of the Yankees, the Mets have won just two World Series titles and none since 1986. Given the Mets’ history, it seemed appropriate that Wright said “I’ve wanted to be here though the good times, through the bad times,” echoing a line from the song “I’m Still Here” from the Stephen Sondheim musical “Follies.”
LISTEN: Sandy Alderson with Francesa
Wright, a six-time All-Star who turns 30 on Dec. 20, has never been to the World Series, falling one win short in 2006. He’s seen Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez depart as the Mets slashed payroll during the fallout from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme that cost the Wilpon family, which owns the team, hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I take a lot of pride in putting on this uniform on every day,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in going out there and trying to play hard in front of those fans every day. And there’s a lot of good times to come.”
Talks began during the first week of October, when the Mets played a season-ending series at Miami.
Wright said an offseason visit from Alderson was crucial, sealing his decision to return after hearing the general manager’s future blueprint.
“I was all in,” Wright said. “From then on, I informed my guys that we needed to get this done. So to me there was no thought of ever putting another uniform on.”
Wright said the deal came together during a 12-hour period last Thursday, starting when Seth Levinson had lunch with Alderson at the Loews Regency Hotel in Manhattan. Two conference calls followed the lunch, and the sides broke to go to a benefit for Mets employee Shannon Forde, who was diagnosed last summer with breast cancer.
Another conference call began at midnight, and the agreement came together. He gets $11 million next year, down from the $16 million he had been scheduled to make. His salaries will be $20 million in each of the following five seasons, $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020. Some of the money will be deferred, and he gets full no-trade protection.
LISTEN: Jeff Wilpon with Francesa
Wright looked to Cal Ripken Jr., Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter as his models, players spending their entire careers with one franchise. Growing up he had rooted for the Mets because their Triple-A farm team was in Norfolk, Va.
“This is where I’ve wanted to play from Day 1,” Wright said. “I grew up a Met fan. … I’m just humbled to be here, and (it’s) a dream come true to be able to finish my career where I started it and hopefully add a championship or two.”
The next logical step is to make Wright captain. The only players to hold the title for the Mets were Keith Hernandez (1987-89), Gary Carter (co-captain 1988-89) and John Franco (2001-04). The decision rests with manager Terry Collins.
“If the players come in the spring and say, listen, we really want David to be the captain and be named the captain, then I’m sure Terry will bring that back and we’ll do something like that,” Jeff Wilpon said. “But for right now, to me David is the captain. He’s the longest-tenured and he commands the respect in the clubhouse.”
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