ORLANDO — The Mets are assuming David Wright will not be their Opening Day third baseman. That may be a no-brainer for most Mets fans since Wright has not played a game since May 2016, but it’s been a tricky situation for the Mets front office.
The face of the franchise has gone through three major surgeries and been diagnosed with spinal stenosis since 2015, but continues to work to get back on the field. Last winter, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said they were going into the season with the plan that Wright would be their everyday third baseman.
This winter, they are preparing for life without the team captain — for now.
“I think the fair way to characterize it is we’ll get to spring training see how he feels,” Mets’ assistant GM John Ricco said Tuesday at the MLB’ annual GM Meetings. “This isn’t something that has just been a couple months, so being fair to us and him we have to plan for him not to be ready, if he is, then we will look at that.”
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But they aren’t really turning the page on Wright, who is owed $47 million over the rest of his contract that runs through 2020. Wright had surgery on his neck in June 2016 and shoulder surgery in September. He had surgery on his spine in October and will do his rehab near his home in California this winter.
Wright, whose contract is insured so that the Mets get back 75% after he is on the disabled list for 60 consecutive days, remains undeterred in his attempt to return.
“Through this entire rehab process, I have been driven to get back on the field as quickly as I can,” Wright in announcing the back surgery. “That’s why I had the shoulder surgery and that’s why today I underwent back surgery to reduce the risk of further issues going forward. With these two surgeries behind me, I hope to be able to put on a Mets uniform again as soon as possible. My desire to play is as strong as ever.”
The Mets have begun short-term adjustments and are looking to build so another setback from Wright will not cripple them.
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They see picking up the option on Asdrubal Cabrera earlier this month as their immediate answer at third base. That move — and the Mets limited budget this winter — basically takes them out of the market for the likes of Mike Moustakas, the top free agent third baseman on the market.
The Mets will go into 2018 planning to have Cabrera as their Opening Day third baseman, something that Cabrera, who demanded a trade in June when asked to move out of the shortstop spot, is really ready to do, his representative Scott Pucino reiterated Tuesday.
“Based on what we saw at the end of the year, Cabrera played pretty well there and now he’s going to have a full spring training, I think he could definitely play there,” said Ricco, who stepped in for GM Sandy Alderson, who was in a meeting with the competition committee during media availability.
“But he does have versatility. The reason we haven’t seen Sandy commit is because there are a lot of options on the table. If we fill third base in a different way, we could just move Asdrubal to second base. That’s probably why Sandy’s not saying he’s the third baseman. “
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The Mets, however, are “leaning,” towards bringing in a second baseman to help add to a lineup without Wright.
With options like Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini and T.J. Rivera internally, the Mets have discussed bringing back Jose Reyes or Neil Walker have been mentioned as possibilities, but the Mets have begun to test the waters a little bit.
In a very casual talk with the Marlins this week, the Mets tried to gauge if there would be a possible fit for a deal. The Marlins have made it known that second baseman Dee Gordon is available, but the Mets came away with the impression that was not a move they could put together at the moment. The Marlins are first focused on trying to deal slugger Giancarlo Stanton, a Mets source said, and won’t be focused on moving Gordon or other pieces for a while.