NEW YORK -- Throughout the first half-century of their history, the Mets never leaned on a single superstar for the entire run of his career. Tom Seaver departed via trade. Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Jose Reyes escaped through free agency. Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran all established themselves elsewhere before calling Flushing home.
Now David Wright has a chance to become that elusive lifetime Met. Wright agreed early Friday morning to an eight-year, $138 million contract that could keep the six-time All-Star third baseman in New York through 2020, according to multiple baseball sources. The Mets expect to make an official announcement early next week.
By agreeing to the richest deal in franchise history, Wright will remain under team control through his age-37 season. The Mets are planning to blend Wright's $16 million contract for 2013 with a seven-year, $122 million extension, bringing the total value to eight years and $138 million.
"I just think it's a great statement for everybody to have this guy wrapped up," manager Terry Collins said by telephone Friday morning. "I knew David wanted to stay. I knew that certainly the organization wanted to keep him and I thought there would be a common ground."
With a sudden flurry of recent action following months of relative inactivity in negotiations, Wright and the Mets struck a deal hours after a cadre of club officials left a benefit dinner Thursday night in New Jersey. The Mets cannot immediately make the signing official because Wright is in Florida this weekend to attend teammate Daniel Murphy's wedding, and will be unavailable for a physical exam until early next week.
But the only timing relevant to the Mets is that Wright is now under contract through at least 2020. A lifetime Mets fan who grew up watching the team's Triple-A affiliate play near his hometown in Norfolk, Va., Wright has long stated that he wished to finish his career with the only professional organization he has known.
He will do so under the richest contract in franchise history, half a million more in total value than the six-year, $137.5 million deal Johan Santana signed in 2008. Wright's deal comes in the same year that rival third basemen Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria signed six-year, $100 million extensions with the Nationals and Rays, respectively.
Though Wright's contract, like Longoria's, includes some deferred money, it is richer overall and boasts a higher average annual value. Wright will also gain no-trade protection in 2014, when he accrues 10 full years of Major League service time.
Wright was unwilling to comment on his deal because it is not yet official.
"One of the things about him, he knows where he's happy," Collins said. "He knows what he means to the organization. Because of that, he was willing to certainly step forward and work hard to want to stay here."
The Mets, likewise, had plenty of incentive to retain one of the most popular homegrown stars in franchise history. Now that Wright will be around for the better part of another decade, Collins said he will ask him to become the team's fourth official captain and first since John Franco in 2004.
"Certainly, that's going to be a discussion that I'm going to want to have with David," the manager said. "He's the face of this organization and he may not say a lot, but he leads so much by example, so much by the way he leads and carries himself. Certainly, I think I've got to have that discussion with him."
The 38th overall selection in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Wright is the franchise's all-time leader in hits, doubles, walks, strikeouts, RBIs and runs scored, and should eventually stand atop the leaderboard in games played and home runs. He hit .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBIs in 156 games in 2012, narrowly missing out on a third Gold Glove Award with a renaissance defensive season.
"I think it's great for everybody," Collins said. "I think it's great for David, great for the organization, certainly our Mets fans. Now we can hopefully move on."
In the short term, moving on means attempting to strike a deal with pitcher R.A. Dickey, who is also negotiating a contract extension. Dickey said earlier this week that he and the Mets have exchanged offers, and that his camp was waiting to hear back from the team.
The pace of negotiations could pick up next week, when Mets officials travel to Dickey's hometown of Nashville, Tenn., for baseball's Winter Meetings.
"I'm hoping," Collins said. "I know that certainly [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] has an idea and a plan ... and I know R.A. has said many times that he wants to stay a Met. I think signing David shows that we're trying to do the right things to be successful, and I think that will mean a lot to R.A."