When David Wright walked into Citi Field last September, his future was murky.
After years of battling injuries, the Mets captain admitted he was physically unable to play major league baseball any more, but he isn’t entirely ready to leave the game.
It turns out Wright will keep at least a small role in the organization going forward. The third baseman will transition to a role as a special assistant to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen soon, two team sources told The News.
This is hardly surprising, considering that Wright showed up in the Mets’ suite at the Winter Meetings and was seen out with Van Wagenen in Las Vegas. He was invited by club COO Jeff Wilpon and Van Wagenen to get a feel for the other side of the game.
Wright is said to have told some friends that after playing his final game in September, he was looking for a way to keep himself involved in the game. Van Wagenen said last month that he was interested in drawing on Wright’s experience as a player and a teammate in building a new culture in Flushing.
Sources close to Wright said it will be a part-time role that still allows him plenty of time to spend with his family, including his two young daughters.
Wright, 36, played his final game last September after years of dealing with spinal issues. Diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2015, he returned late in that season for the Mets’ run to the World Series, but was sidelined by a neck issue the next season. He needed three surgeries to address the back, neck and shoulder issues over the last three years and went over two years without playing in a major league game.
The Mets were working on a resolution for his player contract, which runs through the 2020 season. The Mets have received significant insurance on that contract over the 28 months as Wright battled injuries, but he is owed $27 million over the next two seasons. The Mets and Wright need to find a settlement of that remaining deal to get him off the 40-man roster for next season.
After years of trying to work his way back onto the field, Wright came back for an emotional farewell weekend at Citi Field. He had a pinch-hit appearance and then played four innings and had two plate appearances on Sept. 29. He addressed the crowd after the 13-inning game and that marked the end of an era.
The last captain in baseball and only the fourth to earn that honor in the franchise’s history, Wright’s legacy as a career Met will be remembered as a very good player carrying a very bad team through some tough times. He was a seven time All-Star and won a pair of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers alike He slashed .296/.376/.491, with 242 home runs and more than 50 wins above replacement in 14 seasons with the Amazin’s. He holds the franchise records in hits (1,777), runs (949), RBI (970), double (390) and walks (761). His 242 home runs are second in franchise history.
Wright’s loyalty to the Mets was also remarkable, after growing up a Mets fan in Virginia he played his entire career for the Amazin’s.
Even after being snubbed by team owner Fred Wilpon who was quoted as being “a very nice kid,” but not a “superstar,” in 2011, Wright agreed to a seven-year, $138 million deal that guaranteed he would end his career here. That was at a time before he had suffered injuries and was one of the best in the game and the Mets were just beginning a major rebuild. Through lots of losing seasons and even the controversy surrounding the franchise after the owners were involved in the Bernie Madoff scandal, Wright was the proud face of a franchise that had become the butt of jokes. He was the person the Mets pushed to the forefront to try and rebuild good will with their fans, the face they sold as the ambassador for the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field and who they will eventually honor with representation around the ballpark.