Inbox: Is Wright on Mets' Mount Rushmore?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from fans

September 24th, 2018

Since is retiring and might be done as well, where do Wright and Reyes stack up against other Mets all-time greats in your opinion?
-- @matthewpage24 via Twitter

Wright is certainly on the franchise's Mount Rushmore; I don't think there's a great argument against him as the top offensive player in Mets history. Wright's career WAR of 50.4, according to Baseball Reference, dwarfs that of Darryl Strawberry, who ranks second on the list at 36.6. Wright is the franchise record holder in hits, doubles, runs, RBIs, walks and total bases, and while some of that is due to the fact that he also leads in at-bats and plate appearances, his peak years were Hall of Fame-caliber. His best season, 2007, was good for an 8.3 WAR, best all-time in Mets history.
Had Strawberry spent more than eight years in Flushing, this might be a different conversation. As it is, Strawberry, Reyes, Mike Piazza, Carlos Beltran and others simply weren't here long enough to challenge Wright's mantle.
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Pitching is another story. This is a franchise built around it, and no one was better on the mound than Tom Seaver. What Wright did as a hitter made him one of the best of his generation. What Seaver did as a pitcher made him one of the best of all-time. There's a reason why the former won't make the Hall of Fame, while the latter entered on the first ballot.
As for Reyes, his peak simply wasn't long enough to enter into that conversation. Reyes' total of 27.1 WAR with the Mets puts him between Edgardo Alfonzo and Keith Hernandez, the latter of whom enjoyed significantly more success outside New York.
(By the way, the Mets' Mount Rushmore, to me, consists of Wright, Strawberry, Seaver and Dwight Gooden. If you disagree, feel free to let me hear it.)
Has there been any discussion about the team changing its apparent policy of not retiring numbers unless the player is a Hall of Famer? There are a number of deserving guys already, and now with Wright retiring, I figure it's time.
-- @MGHeinz via Twitter

While Jeff Wilpon didn't exactly shout from the rafters that he intends to retire Wright's No. 5 when asked about it last week, the general expectation is that it will happen at some point in the coming years. If those gates open, however, expect noise from those who want Hernandez's No. 17 and Gary Carter's No. 8 retired, as well. It's possible Wright's departure may be the impetus for the Mets to grow a bit more liberal with their retired numbers.
Any rumblings on whether the Mets intend to sign long-term this offseason?
-- @onmylevels via Twitter

As of a few weeks ago, the Mets had not engaged deGrom in any meaningful long-term talks. When I asked deGrom about it for this profile, he wondered out loud that "at some point, do you bet on yourself?"
"I'm not going to sign some crazy, cheap deal," said deGrom, who has two years left under team control.
Those close to deGrom say he would have been happy to sacrifice future earning power for long-term security early in his career, but he has perhaps reached the point -- he's made $12.6 million, not including endorsements -- where that no longer makes sense. A market-value extension could probably still win him over, but the Mets have shown zero inclination to pony up the type of nine-figure deal that would be necessary. It appears all but inevitable that deGrom will hit free agency in two years, at age 32.
What are the Mets' biggest needs going into next season? And who should be the ideal targets at those positions?
-- @metfan722 via Twitter

Bullpen and catcher, in that order. If the Mets truly believe they can compete in 2019, they should be pursuing the absolute top of the relief market -- , , Zach Britton, and whomever else you want to put on that list. For the Mets to "win" the offseason, it's mandatory they sign at least one of those arms.
Catcher is a bit trickier. While the Mets absolutely need an upgrade, few exist for the taking. The team should make a run at and , and not shy away from a bidding war for either.
Will Wright's contract and others coming off the books, plus ' insurance money, mean more spending flexibility for Mets?
-- @degiap01 via Twitter

Wright's contract isn't coming off the books. He's still owed $27 million, and the Mets, presumably through an agreement with their insurance company, will continue to pay it. That's why the team has been careful to say he's not retiring, even though he won't be playing beyond this season. The Mets in the past have considered Wright's salary as part of their payroll even though he hasn't played in more than two years. They'll almost certainly take the same tact with Cespedes, who could return midway through next year.
Do you think will be considered an outfielder or a first baseman going into next season?
-- @FuneralMadera via Twitter

Both. The Mets will go into next season with Bruce, and manning the outfield, and as a platoon option. Bruce can also take some heat off the combination of and at first base, assuming Peter Alonso doesn't start the season in the Majors. (For more on that, see the next question.)
In recent weeks, the Mets have more aggressively deployed Bruce at first, knowing they're going to use him there next year. But particularly until Cespedes returns, Bruce will remain a key component of the outfield, as well.
Do you think the Mets see Peter Alonso as a prime player to start at first base going into 2019?
-- @VetonsHotStove via Twitter

This is a tough one to predict. On the one hand, the Mets' strongest lineup probably includes Alonso at first base and Bruce in the outfield. On the other, the Mets have also stashed Alonso in the Minors for so long now that Super Two and team control factors will be relevant next April -- even if they think his defense is up to snuff.
Then there's the matter of Smith, who hasn't done a ton to prove he belongs in the big leagues, but who is of no use to anyone at Triple-A. I doubt we'll have the answer in February; expect plenty of ink to be spilled on what should be one of the leagues' more intriguing Spring Training competitions.
What do you think will be the role of next year? He was as good as Jeff McNeil when he came up.
-- @Alguera via Twitter

With all due respect to Rivera, he's never had a two-month stretch in the Majors like McNeil's current run. Assuming Rivera is healthy at the start of Spring Training, he'll compete for a job on the Mets' bench.