The New York Mets signed third baseman David Wright to a seven-year, $122 million contract extension early Friday morning, Yahoo! Sports has learned – a deal that could keep the cash-strapped franchise's marquee player in Flushing for the remainder of his career.
WFAN radio first reported the deal.
Wright, who turns 30 in December, comes off a year in which he hit .306/.391/.492 with 21 home runs, though he slumped decidedly in the second half, with a .750 OPS. The Mets, concerned with the attendance falloff at Citi Field in its fourth season – at 2.2 million, they were 17th in baseball – made signing Wright a priority this offseason.
Coupled with his $16 million contract this season, Wright's total deal is for $138 million – $500,000 more than the franchise-record six-year pact pitcher Johan Santana received in 2008, when the Mets were among the highest-spending franchises in baseball.
Massive debt has saddled Mets owner Fred Wilpon since his involvement with Ponzi scheme architect Bernie Madoff was revealed and ultimately cost Mets ownership $162 million. Add in the attendance dip and payments on the stadium, and the Mets needed a loan from Major League Baseball and a $200 million cash infusion from minority investors to stabilize.
After nine straight seasons of nine-figure opening day payrolls, the Mets started last season at $93.4 million – the 14th-highest in the game. With the release of Jason Bay and the likely non-tender of Mike Pelfrey, the Mets have around $56 million in expected commitments to players under contract and in arbitration. Santana's massive contract lapses after this season, too, leaving only Wright and Jonathon Niese under contract beyond 2013.
The Mets have been negotiating with reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey on a new contract beyond the one-year, $5 million option they hold for 2013. Talks have stalled leading up to Sunday's winter meetings, by which time Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Newsday he needs "a little more clarity" on the team's extension talks.
With Santana, Dickey, Matt Harvey, Niese and the expected arrival of hotshot prospect Zack Wheeler, the Mets will enter next season with a formidable rotation. Beyond Wright, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, the same cannot be said for their everyday lineup.
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