For David Wright, the market will bear a lot more than the Mets can
The Mets might not be in a position to sign David Wright to a long-term extension. Unfortunate, but given the ownership group's ongoing financial problems, that's the way it is.
Word leaked last week that the Mets are preparing an offer of six years guaranteed, in the neighborhood of $100 million. In all likelihood, that won't be close to enough. Adam Rubin speculated that Wright would receive around eight years and $160 million on the open market, which seems about right.
The Mets may argue, if and when Wright follows Jose Reyes to greener pastures, that they didn't want to commit to Wright for as long as he wanted them to.
After all, they need only point to the Yankees as a cautionary tale. Alex Rodriguez, recently benched, is 37 amd declining each year. And he's signed for another five years and $114 million.
There are also the endless claims from the Mets that their own failed long-term contracts have prevented them from signing new players, from Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo back in 2010, to Jason Bay and Johan Santana now.
But let the record show that if the cash-strapped, debt-plagued Mets let their best, most popular player go, it'll be because they didn't offer to pay him what he's worth.
The object in any long-term deal, realistically, is to see the player perform at a level worth more than he'll earn in his peak years, thus making up for it when he likely falls short of his contract's value at the back end of the deal, as he ages.
In Wright's case, his 2012 was worth $35.1 million, according to Fangraphs. This wasn't a fluke. Wright's 2008 season was worth $32 million, and his 2007 checked in at $36.2 million. Wright is on track to be one of the greatest third basemen ever, and that was true prior to his rebound 2012 season.
Were Wright to be worth $30 million in 2014 and 2015 alone, he'd need to be worth approximately around $16 million on average over the remainder of his contract, a level he's reached in every full season he's played, with the exception of his injury-marred 2011.
So it's fairly easy to see Wright rewarding a team for signing him for this high price, which means that the 6/100 level is actually likely to be well shy of what he'd get in an open market.
It also probably underrates what he'll be worth in another way. Major League Baseball just signed new television contracts that will pay every team approximately $50 million more in revenue, starting in 2014. Coincidentally, if Wright plays out his option and heads to free agency, he'll be hitting the market just as every single team will have vastly more to spend over the next eight seasons, the length of the new television deals.
It is hard to imagine this won't directly affect the price of premier free agents. And David Wright is almost certainly going to be the best one out there.
It's just a shame that even if the Mets make their best offer, it's probably going to be one Wright has no business settling for.