The situation surrounding third baseman David Wright’s potential return to the New York Mets is getting uglier by the day. Wright worked out at Citi Field on Friday ahead of a scheduled simulated game on Saturday, but team officials continued to downplay the potential for a return from the disabled list. Assistant General Manager John Ricco hinted that the Mets expect Wright to be a full time contributor upon his return from the disabled list, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Considering that Wright hasn’t been able to stay healthy for the past few years, the odds of Wright being a starter for the Mets again are slim to none.
Here is a quote from Ricco describing the club’s expectations for Wright:
“When you come back, you come back as a player, not in that limited type of a role, because you never know what the game is going to throw at you. You say it’s just a pinch- hitter and then he’s running, so we really haven’t talked about a lower bar.”
This logic makes no sense, especially in September when active rosters expand to 40 players, making a pinch hitting role more viable. Wright will also have to be added back to the 40 man roster if he plans on attempting to play again in 2019, so prolonging that process also doesn’t make sense. The publicity buzz of Wright finally making it back to the bigs would also bring some positive energy to the Mets, but they appear completely unreceptive to the idea. This lends credence to the theory that the Mets don’t want to activate Wright from the disabled list in order to avoid having to pay the full salary of a diminished baseball player.
This has already created an awkward dynamic around the team and its captain, especially since Wright has gone on the record to indicate he is planning on playing again in 2018. Wright could pursue a grievance through the player’s union if he feels that the Mets aren’t planning to play him, but Puma notes that he would have a hard time winning it due to his various injuries and spinal stenosis condition. Another option that Wright could pursue is to publicly call out the Mets and challenge them to activate him, but that would mean risking his cordial relationship with the Wilpons. So far, it appears that Wright will continue to play the good soldier, but his patience probably isn’t endless.
One other scenario to watch here is if the insurance company tries to take action against the Mets. The Mets are playing a dangerous game trying to keep Wright off the field until he is fully healthy, especially if the company feels like the team is simply trying to collect money instead of activate a potentially healthy player. A lot depends on the language of the actual policy, but if the Mets don’t activate Wright before the end of the season the company could pursue legal action against the Wilpons for trying to game the system. A lot could change in the coming weeks, but the longer that the Mets try to find reasons to keep Wright out of the lineup the worse they look.