Mets did right by David Wright


In the end, David Wright’s goodbye cameo comes down to just a little more money than the Mets are paying Michael Conforto for the entire 2018 season.

The fourth-year outfielder Conforto is earning $605,090, a hearty bargain, for what has turned into a nice recovery season from his serious left shoulder injury. For six days on the active roster, from Sept. 25 through the end of the season, the Mets will pay Wright $641,711.23, the professional sports team equivalent of dinner at a nice restaurant for civilians.

The Mets did right by Wright, who will be declared medically ineligible to play after he enjoys his farewell week, but let’s not make this into more than it was. The costs of being petty over such a small sum — of not activating him so they could continue the insurance coverage of his salary — far outweighed the benefits of giving Wright his proper goodbye. Besides, the Mets will make back a significant chunk of Wright’s pay, if not turn a profit outright, from the crowd they’ll draw to see his last start, Sept. 29 against the Marlins.

Really, Wright’s acceptance of his fate will eliminate a great deal of unnecessary agita and ignorance surrounding his status, and that should help the Mets, too, as will Wright’s roster spot and the expected short-term insurance windfall.

In Thursday’s news conference to announce Wright’s exit strategy, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon declared, “The decision has nothing to do with insurance or finances,” which reflected ownership’s continued sensitivity to the notion it is cheap. When you follow the money in this instance, however, you see how counterproductive it would have been to block Wright from playing.

“Based on his accomplishments for this franchise and how hard he’s worked over the last two years, David has earned the opportunity to return to the major league field,” Wilpon said. “Out of respect for him personally, professionally and for our fans, we want to give him the opportunity.”

Wright praised Wilpon on Thursday, saying, “You’ve certainly gone above and beyond for me and my family, and I appreciate you for allowing me to accomplish my goal of putting on the uniform again as an active player.”

The perception of a rift between Wright and his bosses emerged because of recent tough talk from interim co-general manager John Ricco, who spoke multiple times about Wright’s lack of progress. That turned out to be an attempt to temper expectations. It led to some confusion, although Wright repeatedly insisted that he and Wilpon were on the same page.

Wilpon acknowledged that Wright won’t technically retire, meaning he’ll get the entirety of the $27 million owed to him through 2020, with $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020. Based on what Wright has endured since 2015 and on Wilpon’s announcement Thursday that Wright has not been medically cleared to play, it’s a fait accompli that the Mets’ insurer will accept the reality that Wright can no longer do his job.

So at that point, standard operating procedure calls for the Mets and their insurers to negotiate a settlement in which the Mets would get an up-front payment in return for paying more of Wright’s salary out of their own pocket. Had Wright not been activated and simply rode the 60-day disabled list through 2020, the insurance would’ve covered $20.25 million of the $27 million. Now, based on industry precedent, the Mets figure to get about $15 million.

The Mets likely would’ve gone this route even without Wright’s activation because it would’ve defied logic to keep Wright on their 40-man roster for a third straight offseason when he had no chance to play anymore. He’ll be released by November to free up that roster spot.

Throughout Wright’s struggles, a dimwit contingent of Mets fans complained about his efforts to return and wondered why he couldn’t just give back his money. That was absurd; Wright earned his big package, just as he earned his pending curtain call. And his bosses did the proper thing, which conveniently enough was also the easy thing.

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