1:00 pm Nov. 27, 2012
With Major League Baseball's winter meetings just six days away, and New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson looking for clarity by that time, it would ordinarily be encouraging that the Mets made David Wright a contract offer.
But the offer, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Monday, was not a serious one. As Rosenthal wrote:
The Mets offered Wright a six-year, $100 million contract extension on Monday, according to major-league sources.
It is an offer that Wright is certain to refuse.
Wright, who is under contract for $16 million in 2013, prefers a deal of seven years or longer, sources say.
Exactly what the offer means will be determined by subsequent events. Andy Martino of the Daily News reports that the Mets have already increased this offer to seven years and above $100 million, though this hasn't been reported elsewhere. Adam Rubin reported more here. So if this was merely a first offer, the Mets can still get it right.
But according to Rosenthal, whose hot-stove reporting is very, very good, it is clear the Mets did not make this offer as part of an effort to re-sign Wright. Since Wright and the Mets have been talking and the Mets know Wright won't accept a deal for fewer than seven years, a six-year offer at less annually than what Wright wants might as well be no offer at all.
Rosenthal points out that at least the Mets organization is taking "a more aggressive approach than it did last off-season with shortstop Jose Reyes."
Back then, the Mets merely reached out to Reyes' agents with a framework for a possible deal that was for fewer years and less money per season than the offer he'd already received from the Miami Marlins. The Mets knew that by waiting with free agent Reyes, another team could come in and bid, thus providing an offer the Mets could publucly decide was too rich for them to match, and bow out. If they intended to sign Reyes, they would have made their framework discussion an actual offer during the period they had exclusive negotiating rights with Reyes.
The reason this didn't happen is clear in retrospect: the very same week Reyes signed his six-year, $106 million deal with the Marlins, the Mets were finalizing a $40 million bridge loan just to stay afloat. A Reyes deal wasn't in the realm of the possible.
It may well be that the Mets are in a similar situation with Wright. An effort to borrow further against SNY to pay for some upcoming expenses has yet to be finalized. Whether the Mets are in position to afford extensions for Wright and Dickey without running afoul of other obligations, or can receive approval to do so from their creditors, is far from certain.
But with Wright under contract through 2013, the Mets can't wait for someone else to come in and outbid them this winter. The only way to facilitate a similar end to negotiations is through setting an artificial deadline, as Alderson has with the winter meetings, and creating an offer just rich enough to give the team public relations cover if they ultimately deal him.
Rosenthal, for his part, also casts doubt on the idea that the Mets will trade Wright at next week's winter meetings, but for reasons that have to do with things like selling tickets in 2013, or the public relations fallout of having Wright return to Citi Field for the 2013 All-Star Game in another uniform.
Even the idea of increasing the potential return for Wright, or R.A. Dickey, through offering the acquiring team a chance to sign either one contingent upon a trade, the way the Mets once acquired Johan Santana, is dismissed by Rosenthal because of the potential embarrassment should the negotiations fail to yield a deal.
Doing right by the baseball team isn't a luxury this ownership group can afford anymore. We'll soon see if the same is true of a long-term deal for David Wright.