3:28pm: Per a club announcement, the Mets and Wright have “mutually agreed” upon his release from the active roster. He’ll take on a new role as a special advisor to COO Jeff Wilpon and Van Wagenen. Though the specifics of his new position were not divulged, SNY’s Andy Martino tweets that Wright will spend less time in uniform as a coach/mentor than other retired players-turned-front office advisors and will spend more time actually in the front office.
“David attended the recent Winter Meetings at the suggestion of myself and Brodie Van Wagenen where he contributed throughout with our baseball operations group and wanted to pursue this route,” said Wilpon in a statement accompanying the press release. “We are thrilled he will remain close to the Mets family and will be a great asset in this new role.”
There’s no mention of the remaining money on his contract, though presumably the Mets reached a buyout agreement with the insurance company. The new role for Wright opens up a spot for Wright on the 40-man roster, which had previously been full.
12:30pm: David Wright’s playing days are done, but the Mets icon will transition into a front office role with the team and serve as a special assistant to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen moving forward, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports.
Wright, of course, is still under contract with the Mets for another two seasons but made clear upon his emotional return to the field in late September that the lone game he started would be the final one of his career. After more than two years of grueling rehab from neck, shoulder and spinal injuries, medical professionals informed Wright that his condition simply would not improve to the point where he could safely resume the rigors of playing baseball professionally. Wright is owed $27MM through the 2020 season, though that sum is heavily insured, and the Mets are working toward a buyout arrangement that would not require Wright to be on the 40-man roster throughout the remainder of this offseason and next offseason. (Simply releasing him would mean paying the whole $27MM sum.)
Ackert notes that Wright’s role will be a part-time position that allows him to stay involved in the game and with an organization to which he remains extremely loyal, while still affording him ample time to spend with his family. Such roles are hardly uncommon for retired players — particularly those who had a long history with a specific organization. Ichiro Suzuki moved into that type of role with the Mariners early last season, and the Twins gave Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and LaTroy Hawkins comparable positions a couple years ago. Michael Young holds a similar position in the Rangers organization, and a look through the front-office directories throughout the game would reveal dozens more familiar names.
Responsibilities involved with special assistant roles vary case by case, though it’s common for former players turned special assistants to be on-hand as a coach/mentor in Spring Training. They also frequently visit minor league affiliates throughout the season to work with younger players as they rise through organizational ranks. Some also have a hand in evaluations leading up the amateur draft each June and also in various player development and in internal player evaluation.