The David Wright insurance mess is a perfect reason why Mets fans deserve better from ownership
The Wilpon family continues to be one of the worst ownership groups in baseball
As the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season steers toward its conclusion, we're often left reflecting on what went wrong for non-contending teams. Here, specifically, the Mets enter Wednesday 65-78 and will soon miss the playoffs for the second straight year in what was supposed to be a wide-open window of contention behind a stable of power arms.
I can't, however, shake the feeling in general that this organization is a mess because of a terrible ownership group. That is, the Wilpon family. My latest grievance against the team is that it appears set to prevent a feel-good David Wright return due to money.
The Mets took out an insurance policy for the eight-year, $138-million contract extension that Wright, the team's longest-tenured player, signed in 2012. Insurance covers 75 percent of Wright's salary — $20 million this season, or over $3 million a month — once he misses at least 60 days. If the Mets activate Wright from the disabled list for, say, the final two weeks of the season, they pay the full amount owed for that period.
But that would also affect next season, because the 60-day deductible clock would be reset. So if Wright were activated this month and then missed all of next season, the Mets would still be on the hook for 100 percent of the salary for 60 days. Wright is owed $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020, the final year of his contract.
For now, the Mets remain steadfast in saying they are only concerned about Wright's health and he didn't exactly perform well in his minor-league rehab stint. This organization and its penny-pinching haven't earned the benefit of the doubt here in light of the insurance, though.
The Mets play in New York City, the largest media market in baseball by a decent margin. Even splitting it with the Yankees, New York is a gargantuan market. It's more than double Chicago, for example (sportsmediawatch.com). According to Forbes, the Mets are the sixth-most valuable team in baseball at $2.1 billion and generated $163 million in revenue in 2017.
This should be an absolute powerhouse like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers when it comes to free agency. Give the Mets credit for bringing back Yoenis Cespedes after he hit free agency, but man, they've been incredibly cheap aside from that. Instead of swinging for the fences, they're shelling out smaller deals for the likes of Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. They're desperately hoping to see turnarounds from retreads like Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista.
On the flip-side, why did we never even mention the Mets in the J.D. Martinez rumor mill instead of Bruce? The answer is easy: We knew there was zero chance the Wilpon family would pony up the necessary dough to add Martinez to an outfield already featuring Cespedes.
I think I just blew a snot bubble in laughter at even considering the Mets players for any of those guys.
Isn't that a big, big problem?
Remember, this is an ownership group that has gotten at least $65 million in loans and looked to sell a minority share in the wake of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme before cutting off negotiations. It's pretty well known in the New York area that Jeff Wilpon is one of the most meddlesome owners in baseball (though his father, Fred, is the one who bought the team).
The office of the commissioner has removed an owner in the recent past, when MLB forced Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers. He had forced the club into bankruptcy. The Mets situation isn't as dire, but the manner in which they operate shows a group of owners that isn't very good at being financially successful with a huge-market MLB team. Here's an example:
They saved money in player payroll and just pocketed it, continuing to let the fan base down. They also have insurance on Cespedes' deal and haven't said if they'll reinvest any saved money there in player payroll. They don't need to. We know the answer.
The Jeurys Familia trade in July was such a joke -- tantamount to a salary dump -- that Keith Law of ESPN suggested MLB should force a sale.
On and on the examples go. The organization is terrible and catching lightning in a bottle in 2015 doesn't change that. The Mets will continue to be a terrible franchise until it's in someone else's hands. I don't think MLB is going to force a sale, so I have a suggestion to the Wilpon family:
Please sell the team.
Forbes said the Mets are worth $2.1 billion. Billion with a B! The Dodgers sold for $2 billion in 2012. Hell, the lowly Marlins sold for $1.2 billion. Please just sell the team and get filthy rich. Take the money and get away from baseball. Please. It would be a win-win. Winning is good and the Mets will do a lot more of it once you're gone.
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