It emerged earlier today that Mets third baseman David Wright would appear with the organization’s top affiliate as he continues his rehab assignment. That seemed a good sign after a two-day rest period for Wright, perhaps even indicating that he would be readying for a return to the majors late this year.
In comments this afternoon, however, assistant GM John Ricco suggested that the organization hasn’t necessarily put in an order for a fresh #5 jersey top. As MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo was among those to cover (all links to Twitter), Ricco also announced that the team will not promote top first base prospect Peter Alonso this fall and gave the reasoning behind the club’s decision to trade away veteran outfielder Jose Bautista.
The 35-year-old Wright last saw action in the majors in May of 2016, but has continued to try to battle through a series of significant medical impediments in hopes of making it back. He was written off by most entering the year, and still faces long odds to return to being a player truly worthy of occupying a MLB roster spot, but will now get a shot to show his form at the highest level of the minors.
As Marc Carig of The Athletic recently documented (subscription link), Wright has to endure hours of preparation just to make it onto the field. Back, neck,and shoulder problems will continue to impact the veteran even if he’s able to filter back up to the majors.
Unsurprisingly, those limitations have seemingly left the organization feeling less than optimistic about Wright’s output. Still, it’s a bit jarring to hear Ricco’s account of the long-time team leader. “We just haven’t seen that level of consistency of playing on a quantity or quality basis at this point,” says Ricco, who calls it “unrealistic to think [Wright will] be activated anytime soon.”
As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post explained at the outset of the season, this coming offseason will represent a decision point for Wright and the Mets. He’s on the 60-day DL for the time being, but will take up a 40-man spot over the offseason. With $27MM left to go on Wright’s contract, and an insurance policy looming large in the background, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how things play out.
Meanwhile, Ricco explains that the hot-hitting Alonso wouldn’t receive much opportunity at first base in the majors late this year, with time slated to be shared between Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores, and (once recalled) Dominic Smith. Of course, it’ll also mean that the 23-year-old Alonso won’t pick up any service time this season, making it easier for the organization to delay his promotion next season while still allowing him to play for much of the year. As ever, it’s hard to discern just how heavily the varying considerations weighed.
In the case of Bautista, who was just moved for a marginal return, Ricco says the idea was to clear the deck for the team to find plate appearances for existing players (not including Alonso, obviously). Plus, the Mets preferred to “do the right thing by Jose,” allowing the veteran to join a pennant race.