Can you imagine a future without David Wright?
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, your New York Mets most certainly can. While summarizing the plights of various MLB clubs in a rebuilding or renovating mood (subscription required), Olney included a nugget about the franchise's third baseman:
1. New York Mets: They will take a serious run at Jose Reyes, although they may be reluctant to offer the shortstop more than a five-year contract, and they are expected to listen to offers for David Wright, who is signed through 2012 and has a club option for 2013. Wright could be a fit with the Angels, Rockies or Mariners, among others.
Well, ok. That's nothing concrete nor imminent.
It is, however, a possibility. With David Einhorn bowing out of ownership, the cloud of uncertainty of re-signing Reyes or any other notable free agent this offseason looms large. The Mets likely won't match the $140 million seen in recent years, but they have $81 million or so paying for big-ticket items that should leave enough room for Sandy Alderson to maneuver a few more dice rolls along with a sizable raise to Reyes and still end up in a $100-110 million range.
Of course, Wright's trade value comes as much from the money he's due as the talent he possesses. According to Cot's Contracts, Wright is due $15 million next season with the club holding a $16 million option for 2013 that includes a $1 million buyout. According to FanGraphs, the Mets have more than made back the money they spent on Wright since he signed his contract extension back in 2007 -- but they've also seen that value diminish, including in a 2011 season where Wright's production will amount to roughly half of what general managers would pay for it on the open market.
If some team like the Rockies -- who expressed interest as recently as last month by placing a waiver claim on Wright -- want to pay Alderson a premium in prospects for the third baseman's services, aren't the Mets at least obligated to take the call at this point?
Barring a Wright-friendly move of the Citi Field fences in the offseason, it's going to get tougher every year to think Wright will be worth what he used to be. He's 28 years old now. If the Mets want to extract the highest possible bounty for the current face of the franchise, they can't let him get any older.
I don't think they'll trade him, if only because I'm unclear on what the Mets would try to get in a trade. They pretty much need everything right now, so a trade for "best available players" would only make sense if it were clear what kind of strategy "best available players" would fulfill outside of bumping up the organization's minor league reputation. Alderson's not making trades for the sake of making trades, and he's definitely not trading a Major League-ready third baseman with All-Star potential just because he can.
But should they trade him? And at what cost -- both in talent and in fan support?