After early reports that the New York Mets had made an offer to pending free agent (and franchise leader in just about everything) David Wright that was high enough to look impressive but low enough that there was no way he'd accept it — a Met move if there ever were one — Jon Heyman reported early yesterday evening that the Mets had gotten more serious about Wright, putting a deal on the table that's roughly what they gave Carlos Beltran. Now, this might be the Mets secretly begging he'll turn it down (so it'll look good that they offered, even if it's something they can barely afford), or maybe they really have the money, certainly possible considering how much money is floating around baseball right now. But let's get past this idea that, somehow, "it's all about whether Wright wants to be a Met now."
The primary purveyor of this is John Harper in the Daily News, who gets the ball rolling with a column that just flat-out says it: "The onus is on Wright now to take the deal, and quickly, or it will look as if he doesn’t really want to be a Met."
This is is exactly the type of column that baseball management is always wanting journalists to write. It puts the burden of positive public relations on the player, the idea that if Wright somehow doesn't just come sprinting toward the Mets, so grateful, he's a jerk who doesn't appreciate what the Mets have given him. Remember, David Wright has been one of the best players in baseball over the last seven years, one of the best players in Mets history, and this is the first time in his career he's had the opportunity to test the market — you know, do the thing you do with every job you've ever taken. At this moment, he's supposed to just roll over and thank the Mets for this wonderful offer, even though it's possible he could get a better one from another team and, oh yeah by the way, the Mets have caused him nothing but pain for the past five years, his baseball prime. This guy's not supposed to test his market?
As for "loyalty," Joe Sheehan, in his newsletter that you desperately need to subscribe to, wrote yesterday just how one-way that street goes.
A player owes nothing to the organization, any more than the organization owes anything to the player. I know this because of Mike Pelfrey. Mike Pelfrey was also drafted by the Mets, although he was able to negotiate better terms in that process, so he made out better than Wright did in his first few years in the major leagues. Unfortunately for Pelfrey, the 15,000 pitches he's thrown for the Mets have taken their toll; in May, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The Mets' loyalty to Pelfrey? They will decline to offer him a contract this week, which will make Pelfrey unemployed. Unlike the situation with Wright, however, I doubt we'll see the team's business decision — to look to pay Pelfrey much less than he made in 2012 — couched in terms of loyalty. However, the decisions are the same; if the Mets get to make their decision about a long-time employee based not on loyalty but on hard factors, then Wright should get to do the same, and no one should impose a moral framework on either. Players are expected to be loyal to terrible organizations, but organizations aren't expected to be loyal to terrible players. That dichotomy, and not any individual actors, is what's immoral.
Listen, we hope Wright remains a Met. It'd feel wrong for him to play for another team, and his leaving would further decimate the trust Mets fans have in their team's management. (Apparently that trust can further decimate.) But he has every right to do the best for himself. For the first time in his career, he finally has the opportunity. We hope it works out. But if it doesn't, it's not because David Wright is a jerk. The onus is not on him just because the Mets quickly upped a ridiculously low offer. He is just like you. He gets to pick and choose where he gets to work based on his skills. You know, finally.