Star Mets third baseman David Wright, who has been diagnosed with a condition called spinal stenosis, joined GM Sandy Alderson in addressing the situation with the media yesterday (via Newsday’s Mark Carig). While Alderson says the club is “comfortable” in expecting that Wright will return, it also appears more and more likely that the problem will be a concern even if he does make it back to action.
“It literally is a week-to-week process,” Wright said, explaining that he is regularly undergoing tests of his back condition that must be passed before he can even begin working back to on-field action. “I’m not there right now,” he said. “They run me through the tests and I flat-out can’t do it.”
Surgery is only on the table as a last resort, in the event that rehabilitation proves unavailing. “There’s never been a question in my mind that not only am I going to come back but I want to come back sooner rather than later,” Wright said. “It’s just a matter of being symptom-free.”
In spite of that positivity, and Alderson’s statement that he was not planning to go outside the organization to find a replacement, the GM hinted at an uncertain (and possibly lengthy) timeline when he said the team is “not on the edge of our seat waiting for David to come back.” And he acknowledged the long-term concerns: “I’m not sure we can have any assurance at this point that when he comes back it will be incident-free for the rest of the season.”
Wright is earning $20MM this year and is promised an additional $87MM from 2016-2020. While the club reportedly has insurance that would cover a significant portion of that tab if Wright misses a large chunk of time, that would not offer much relief if he is able to play but can’t return to his former levels (or if, say, he needs scattered DL stints to deal with flare-ups).
In the immediate term, the team does have options, as David Lennon writes for Newsday. Daniel Murphy can occupy third, with some combination of Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, and Dilson Herrera (when he returns from his own injury) playing up the middle. Or, of course, a more established option could be added at the deadline. Regardless, it would now seem a major surprise if Murphy — who has sometimes been discussed as a trade chip — was to be made available this summer.