Mets third baseman David Wright is hoping that an upcoming visit to his back surgeon will result in the beginning of an uphill climb back to the majors, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports. Wright says that it’s just a routine visit, but there seems to be at least some optimism that he’ll be cleared to start some light baseball activities or arrive at a timeline for taking that step.
While it was largely a foregone conclusion already, the news leaves no doubt whatsoever that Wright won’t return in 2016. When he underwent surgery for a herniated disc in mid-June, a three-month timetable had been suggested, which made a late-season activation at least theoretically possible.
Instead, Wright will be looking to build back for 2017. In some regards, there’s no rush, as he’ll have an entire offseason to prepare. But given that he has been limited to light exercise thus far, the hope will surely be that there is sufficient healing in Wright’s neck to allow him as much time as possible to get back in shape and tune up his baseball skills.
There could also be some implications for the Mets, who are no doubt watching warily to see how Wright bounces back. He was already dealing with a serious back issue, diagnosed as spinal stenosis, before the neck surgery became necessary. And at 33 years of age, Wright was already entering a decline phase. Creating a back-up plan, at least, seems an obvious necessity. Even though New York remains on the hook for $67MM through the 2020 campaign, it likely can’t fully count on Wright at this point — though he has made clear that he is committed to a return.
Finding a fill-in could simply be a matter of looking within, of course. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com suggested recently on Twitter that the organization views Jose Reyes as a “hedge” against Wright being unavailable. It seems fair to think that Wilmer Flores would be a viable possibility, and New York has several other, less-established options on its depth chart as well.
That being said, with other infield needs — the pending departure of second bagger Neil Walker and potentially also first baseman Lucas Duda (who is an uncertain tender candidate) — it’s also not unimaginable that the Mets will try for a winter strike to add another player capable of manning the hot corner. How great a priority that is may well depend upon what kind of progress Wright can show over the next month or two.