By Ernie Palladino
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Mets management hasn’t said it. As far as anyone knows, the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson have yet to consider the possibility. But here it is, anyway.READ MORE: Third Stimulus Check: How Could The Economic Relief Package Put More Money In Your Pocket?
Unloading David Wright in the offseason, once unthinkable, might not be a bad idea.
Since Tuesday, the day Terry Collins shut Wright down for the season with an inflamed left rotator cuff, the team has gotten a glimpse of what life might be like without their captain. Though only a small sampling, the picture it produces is encouraging, and could grow even brighter if the Mets find a market for a gutsy, committed third baseman who is more than willing to gut it out despite a barking shoulder.
This is a hard concept to express because Wright has always been the good guy; a good player and good locker room presence. But he hasn’t been productive offensively for some time now, and his final surrender to the shoulder bruise he suffered diving into second on June 12 has opened the door for other options. Maybe he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for the good of the team, too.
The alternatives actually are not that undesirable. If Daniel Murphy can handle third base duties over the long haul and rookie Dilson Herrera continues his strong play at second, Wright could become an attractive bargaining chip for a couple of prospects, or even part of a package for a needed, veteran bat. And wouldn’t that look good on a 2015 roster that should go into the season rich in pitching?
There are some solid arguments against it happening, of course. Wright still has six years remaining on a $138 million extension he signed before last season. That’s a big financial commitment for someone whose power numbers have dropped over the last three years. Though he can still get on base, his homers since 2012 have gone from 21 to 18 to eight. His RBI total has dropped from 93 in ‘12 to 58 last year. He ticked up only slightly this year to 63.
His .269 BA over 134 games is his second-lowest of his career, sitting just above the .254 he compiled in 102 games in 2011.READ MORE: Bronx Students Receive Free Laptops For School; 'Tens Of Thousands' Still In Need, Borough President Says
At 31, he’s still plenty young enough to overcome his recent injury problems. And perhaps if he goes to a team with a cozier park than Citi Field, he might once again be good for 25 homers and 100 RBIs a year.
Murphy took his first game at third in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over the Rockies and didn’t look bad in handling two chances and going 1-for-4 at the plate. He played 28 games there in 2011 in place of Wright and made four errors in 60 chances. Those don’t translate to outstanding numbers, but given the state of the Mets and their needs, there could be worse options.
Any possibilities of a future there for Murphy depend on Herrera, who Terry Collins believes is going to be a good offensive player. He worked out two walks, scored two runs, and turned two double plays Wednesday. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI in Thursday’s loss.
Alderson has already said ownership will not hand him a blank check over the winter. The same old financial constraints will force him into payroll conservatism again. He won’t be able to just go out and buy talent.
That means the trade route. As hard as it might be to let him go, it may be time to dangle Wright out there in hopes of hooking some younger, more power-laden talent. Regardless of how this pseudo wild-card drive winds up — some mathematicians put the Mets’ chances of landing the last playoff spot at less than one percent — this final handful of games should prove an indicator of how well the franchise can get along without its captain.
If they continue their recent prosperity, Alderson should consider Wright expendable.
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