Is David Wright still worth $20 million?

David WrightIn comparing 2016 team payrolls, the Mets sit squarely in the middle, ranked 15th of 30 teams. At the top are the Dodgers ($248 million) and Yankees ($228 million), followed by the Red Sox and Tigers, each just a whisker under $200 million. The next group of teams with payrolls ranging from $158 million to $172 million includes the Rangers, Angels, Cubs and Giants.

This top tier of eight expensive teams is off-set by a bottom tier of frugal teams that includes the Brewers ($64 million), Rays ($67 million) and Marlins ($74 million), all with payrolls roughly equivalent to two Zack Grienkes. The only other three teams below $95 million are the small market A’s and the rebuilding Reds, Phillies and Braves.

The next tier from the bottom includes seven teams with payrolls ranging from $96 million to $105 million. This group includes the Astros, Indians, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Padres, and Twins.  The Rockies and White Sox sit at $113 and $114 million respectively. Square in the middle of the pack, with payrolls ranging from $130 million to $150 million are the Royals, Mets ($135,188,085), Blue Jays, Mariners, Nationals, Cardinals and Orioles.

The top teams all have something in common – dead wood contracts. Yes, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw has a monster salary, but by WAR standards, ROI and every other standard you can think of, he’s worth every nickel. The reason the Dodgers payroll is out of control is because they’re paying hasbeen Carl Crawford and the injured Andre Ethier a combined $39 million. The Yankees are paying the once great and now pretty lousy CC Sabathia $25 million this year.

The Mets have no such albatross, despite recent discussions about David Wright. While we are all concerned about the ability of our captain to play through spinal stenosis, declining range and power, it’s far too early to lump our $20 million dollar player into the hasbeen category. Wright is still just 33 and, though in limited time, did play reasonably well last season. Wright also plays an important role as a clubhouse leader and team ambassador. While hard to quantify, that’s got to be worth something. He still sells jerseys too. Hopefully, he can stay reasonably healthy in 2016, play a solid third base and give us a good OBP and a fair number of doubles and homers. Wright is our second highest paid player this season behind Yoenis Cespedes.

Is our unpredictable 2015 savior really worth the $27.5 million we’ll be paying him this season? We’ll find out. But, as we know, Cespedes’ value transcends his on-field performance. For one thing, the ROI is tremendous. From the moment the Mets front office shocked their fans and the baseball world by ponying up the big bucks to bring back Cespedes, ticket sales increased significantly. It delivered a clear message to fans that ownership was committed to winning. Cespedes is also a drawing card, the type of exciting player that people pay to see. Additionally, Cespedes provides a feared right-handed power bat that balances our lineup and offers those hitting around him the opportunity to see better pitches to hit. David Wright and Lucas Duda, in particular, benefit greatly from having him in the lineup.

The next highest paid Met in 2016 is Curtis Granderson at $16 million. After the season he had last year, and the way he’s established himself in the leadoff spot, in the locker room and as an all-around good guy, few would argue with this value. After the big three, the Mets are paying a combined $26 million for our veteran shortstop combo and fifth starter. These are reasonable sums, as are the arbitration awards to Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed and the modest salaries for free agents Antonio Bastardo and Alejandro de Aza and Jerry Blevins. Juan Lagares is earning $2.5 million, reasonable even for a fourth outfielder. The rest of the roster is all earning below $1 million for the 2016 season.

All things considered, the Mets payroll is about where it should be. Wright’s contract may be a problem for us down the road, but as long as it’s the only one, we’ll be okay, particularly if we get the playoff revenues we’re all anticipating.

8 comments for “Is David Wright still worth $20 million?

  1. April 8, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Agreed. Small sample but I feel much better after his Game #2 performance than after Game #1. It’s possible we’re going to see that kind of inconsistency all year, it’s also possible that he has more good days than bad. Time will tell.

    Speaking of albatross and homegrown:

    What do you think is the probability of the Rockies eating the majority of Sr. Reyes’ $48mil over the next 2 seasons? Jose-Jose-Jose off the bench might still be able to provide quality production for minimal risk. Roll the dice?

    • MattyMets
      April 8, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      I miss Jose, rue the day we let him walk and still think he’d be the best SS on this team, but alas, that ship has sailed

  2. Gene
    April 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Your statement regarding Wright, “He still sells jerseys too” is erroneous. That job apparently belongs to Jeff Wilpon. Just ask Mike Piazza. 🙂

    • MattyMets
      April 8, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Hahaha. What a PR debacle.

  3. Aging Bull
    April 8, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Wright has been one of the great Mets. No debate. His value to this team today is far below $20M though, in my opinion. A simple thought exercise might be illuminating. Hypothetically, imagine that Wright had played for some other team besides the Mets. Imagine that he were a free agent. And then imagine that the Mets signed him for $20m. What would the reaction be?
    I am more for loyalty than the average bear in this “what have you done for me lately” world. But I believe that Wright has been rewarded handsomely for his Mets heroics. The team and the fans owe him nothing further.
    I like Wright and think he’s a stand-up guy. I am hoping that he removes himself, in one way or another, long before his futility puts Collins and the team in an untenable position.

    • Matty Mets
      April 8, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      Aging Bull – Love the nickname, and great comment. I agree completely, I’m just hoping and wishing that we can delay that awkward discussion for another year or two. Ideally, Wright can still put together a couple of pretty good seasons and then bow out in a classy way like his friend Cuddyer did. If he’s interested, he could be this organization’s George Brett when his playing days are over. All said, I think he’s a great guy and I wish him nothing but the best – and I sure hope he gets a ring this year.

  4. Matty Mets
    April 9, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Shout out to Metsblog’s Maggie Wiggin on this piece about what the Mets woukd look like without the captain:

    http://mets.locals.baseballprospectus.com/2016/04/08/projecting-the-wright-less-mets/

  5. BK
    April 10, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Wright may not be a $20M player anymore, but he still provides some value when healthy. If he misses games to injury, so be it. But it’s not a major problem until he reaches Ryan Howard levels of uselessness relative to contract size while on the field.

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