The Miami Marlins netted a few big fish last weekend before the start of the MLB winter meetings in Texas. The Marlins first signed Heath Bell to a three-year, $27 million deal, and then on Sunday night Miami landed the player they sought after from the start of free agency: Jose Reyes. After nine years with the Mets, Reyes inked a six-year, $106 million contract to help energize a franchise and fanbase that’s very much anticipating moving into its new stadium. It was slowly becoming a reality for Mets fans there just wasn’t a chance that their former shortstop and National League batting champ would be returning to Flushing, NY to play baseball next season. Sandy Alderson is taking a ton of heat for not even trying to go higher on his offer for Reyes, but the Mets front office is looking in another direction and couldn’t commit that kind of money and length to a player that is hurt way too often.
From now on David Wright will be going against his former teammate who came up with him through the Mets minor league system on the left side of the diamond. The bigger question is: Are the Mets looking to send David Wright packing as part of their rebuilding movement before his contract up? David Wright joined ESPN New York with Mike Lupica and Don La Greca to discuss his reaction when he heard Jose Reyes was signing with the Miami Marlins, believing he would play the rest of his career with Jose Reyes, being concerned that he could be traded by the New York Mets before his contract is up, being the face of the Mets franchise with the departure of Reyes and believing the Wilpons ownership will put a winning team on the field for Mets fans.
On a personal level what is the reality of Jose Reyes leaving for Miami like for you today?
“I think there’s a professional side, the professional relationship that we had, that we continue to have, and also there’s that personal friendship and really that kind of brother-like relationship that we had. We came up together, both relatively the same age, and we’ve been through quite a few ups and downs in New York together. I think it’s – without sounding cheesy or ridiculous, it’s obviously a tough day, it’s a sad day, because you kind of realize, it hits you that I’m not going to look over to my left and seem him. It’s tough to know with us coming up together and playing in New York for as long as we have that one of those pieces are going to be missing going into next year.”
In the back of your mind did you somehow see the two of you playing your whole career’s together?
“That was the plan. When we both signed our contract extensions, we knew that this is the place that we wanted to be, that we were signing up for that consistency of that long-term deal in exchange for bypassing that free agency at a young age. The way we were going we never would have thought that we would have [regressed] after that and not been that playoff-caliber team year in and year out. I thought that was the plan when we originally signed our first contracts that we wanted to be here long term. And obviously things change. Let’s not forget it is a business, and unfortunately sometimes these tough decisions have to be made.”
Are you concerned about being traded before your contract ends with the Mets so they get something for you?
“Let’s start out by saying I’m under contract for next year. I have a team option for the following year. The goal for me obviously is to play out those two years and see what kind of happens after that. But I don’t think there’s any question that you see what Jose has done and Jose leaving and obviously there are going to be questions surrounding what my future is going to be. That’s why Sandy [Alderson] and his staff are some of the brightest minds in baseball, because they have to make these tough decisions. I understand that we’re very similar as far as age and what we’ve endured here in New York. So I guess to answer your question I’m not sure what my future holds. But, again, that’s out of my control and something I cannot control.”
You are now the face of the franchise. Do you understand why Mets fans are upset today by losing Jose Reyes to the Marlins and worried about you being the next to go?
“It comes along with the territory. In order to have consistency and in order to be able to not only go and get those big ticket free agents, but also lock up the talent you have in the organization you have to have success. We haven’t had that success, so do I necessarily like the fact that Jose Reyes is not going to be a Met next year? Of course not. I wanted him to be a Met just as much as the die-hard Mets fan. Obviously the formula we’ve had the last few years has not worked out. Is is fair to point the fingers at Jose and say that’s the reason? Of course not. When he’s healthy, he’s been one of the few bright spots that we’ve had. And I think the fans love him because of his energy, his hustle, his smile. I think he’s the type of player that gets an offense going and gets the fans into the game. All I know is the New York Mets. I grew up in Norfolk with our Triple-A affiliate. I came through the system. I’ve spent a few years here now. I bleed that blue and orange. So I understand what the Mets fans feel. But I also understand the other side of it, that when things aren’t working or something is broken, you have to make these tough decisions.”
Do you still believe in the Wilpons ownership? Do you believe they can find a way to put a winning team on the field?
“I believe so. I’m confident in the fact that there’s a plan in place. If the reports are true, the front office had a threshold for the type of contract we were willing to give Jose. That’s a plan that’s in place. Sandy said it a million times that there’s a plan that includes Jose and a plan that doesn’t include Jose. What you want out of your front office is not only a short-term plan but also a long-term plan. If that takes running out some younger players that probably wouldn’t be learning on the job the way we might have this year, then so be it. But there is a plan in place, and that gives me confidence and that should give the Mets’ fan base some confidence.”