Game-changer. Role model. Power slugger. Gentleman.
There's a laundry list of superlatives that accurately describes David Wright, the standout New York Mets' third baseman who recently eclipsed Darryl Strawberry for No. 1 all-time in franchise history in RBIs.
The Mets would love nothing more than to make the 29-year-old phenom a part of their immediate future, and he makes no secret of his desire to emulate his childhood hero - Cal Ripken - by staying with the same team for the duration of his playing career.
"That's what you kind of knew him for -- being an Oriole," Wright said in an ESPN.com report, referring to Ripken's incredible feat of sticking with the same team for over two decades. "I think that's cool for a number of reasons, but No. 1 because it doesn't happen very much anymore."
Unfortunately, the Mets may not be able to afford it unless Wright agrees to a hometown discount, which means signing for less money with the team you've been with for years.
Hometown discounts are rare in professional sports, as not many athletes are willing to leave millions of dollars on the table just to stay in the place they are comfortable in.
Wright, who is in the final guaranteed season of his six-year, $55 million extension that he signed in 2006, has some tough decisions ahead, as he ponders whether to stay a New York Met or test the open market.
The New York Mets were so cash-strapped in the 2011 offseason that they didn't even make an offer to Jose Reyes, so they might not be able to come up with the multi-year, multi-million dollar deal that David Wright and his agent will be gunning for.
Wright already ranks No. 2 among third basemen in MLB salaries for 2012, as USAToday.com reports that he's making $15,250,000 this year, and he'll likely be shooting for a significant raise over that sum.
In this day and age, it's doubtful that Wright would tell his agent to give the New York Mets a "hometown discount" just because the team is cash-strapped. Wright is a savvy business man and he deserves to receive fair market value for his services.
He's a perennial All-Star who could easily rake in a five year deal worth $80 million if he tests the open market. Are the Mets willing to spend that kind of money despite their recent financial woes?
I'm not opposed to the idea of the Mets extending Wright's contract. I just don't think they have the cash ready to do so, especially not with the thrift-minded GM Sandy Alderson at the helm.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
www.mlb.com, MLB, player and team stats