CHICAGO — The Mets have dampened expectations on David Wright’s possible return, but the decision on whether to play in 2018 may ultimately belong to the former All-Star third baseman.
A day after assistant general manager John Ricco downplayed the idea of Wright rejoining the club as a September call-up after two-plus years on the disabled list, a person close to the Mets captain offered a rebuttal.
“David is driving this train for the most part,” the person said. “He is coming back.”
It could set the stage for a showdown between the player and club, although it’s unlikely tensions would escalate to that level given the cordial relationship Wright has with team owners Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz. In the end, the Mets would likely appease their team captain, who last appeared in a major league game on May 27, 2016.
But the biggest issue in what seems like a no-brainer of a decision given the Mets’ awful record and the expanded rosters in September could be the insurance policy the team holds on Wright, who is scheduled to earn $3.21 million over the final month of this season. If Wright stays on the disabled list, insurance will cover 75 percent of the tab. If Wright rejoins the club, the Mets have to pay the entire salary.
Additionally, the Mets would have to wait 60 days next season before the insurance kicks in if the 35-year-old Wright, who is battling spinal stenosis, returns to the DL. Wright still has $27 million remaining on the final two years of his contract, which runs through 2020.
Multiple sources connected to the club would not dismiss the notion the Mets are considering the financial consequences of a Wright return and therefore are hesitant to facilitate the move.
Wright continued his rehab assignment at Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday. By the weekend, the Mets must decide on a new plan for Wright, whose rehab assignment will be finished as the minor-league season prepares to conclude.
After arriving to Triple-A earlier in the week — following 10 games at Single-A St. Lucie — Wright, in an interview with the Las Vegas Journal Review, didn’t sound like a man ready to give up on 2018.
“The rehab has certainly been a grind for me and an uphill battle,” Wright said. “But I spent the last two years getting to a point where I can play in games and hopefully getting up to the big leagues and wear that uniform and take the field at Citi Field.
“So you feel like you’re close, and I guess when you graduate from rehab to the Florida State League and then to Las Vegas and Triple-A and you feel you are close.”
On Tuesday, Ricco said Wright’s rehab performance hasn’t had the “quantity or quality” of consistency needed for a return to the major leagues. Ricco termed it “unrealistic” that Wright would return in the near-future.
“To be a major league player takes a lot physically,” Ricco said. “So we tried to put in place a program that he could come back and show us he’s ready to be a major league player, and so far he hasn’t reached that, whether it’s in terms of the playing time or playing skill.”
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