Thursday, February 7, 2013
'This is where I wanted to be'
By Adam Rubin ESPNNewYork.com
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Third baseman David Wright had an eventful December. He signed an eight-year, $138 million contract that he hopes will keep him a New York Met for the remainder of his career, got engaged and turned 30 in a three-week span.
"I'm glad I had the offseason that I did," Wright said on Thursday, after participating in a voluntary workout at the Mets' spring training complex. "That's for sure."
Wright could have tested free agency next offseason, but he decided to make a long-term commitment out of loyalty to the organization and a belief that better days are ahead with prospects such as Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard on the way. He acknowledges the Mets might take a momentary step backward after dealing Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, but Wright suggests the trade with Toronto -- which brought Syndergaard and d'Arnaud to New York -- gave the Mets potential for a brighter horizon.
David Wright was an early arrival to the Mets' spring training complex.
"For me, it was more or less the big picture," Wright said. "The whole 'sell out the farm system' and 'win now at all costs' mentality, I don't think that would be beneficial for where we're at right now.
"So I agreed with the approach that [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] had and what he's trying to build based on these young power arms. That's where the optimism comes from. Obviously, I want to win now. More importantly, I want to be good for a number of years, where for the majority of these eight years that I signed on for that we've got a chance to go to the playoffs every year. I think you build that from the foundation of the minor leagues and what Sandy has done via trades."
Wright insisted he never got to the point where he pictured himself in another uniform.
"As soon as I got a chance to sit across from Sandy, and [chief operating officer] Jeff [Wilpon] for that matter, and hear them tell me that they genuinely wanted me here, then I never let myself get any further in thinking about anywhere else," Wright said.
"Obviously, there were some times during the negotiations -- and this is the first time I've been through anything like this -- where you go through the ups and downs of it. But I always knew something would get done eventually. So I never really envisioned what it would be like playing anywhere else.
"It's kind of weird, but I knew this is where I wanted to be."
Wright took a more active role in negotiations than many players. Rather than relying solely on briefings from his agent, he took part in conference calls with team officials -- including the marathon session that went to 3 a.m. one day in early December, during which the final details were hammered out.
"I never wanted to use the relationship I have with the organization as an advantage to me, but I wanted to be involved," Wright said. "Obviously, I feel like I have tremendous representation. But you're talking about my career, so I wanted to be involved as much as possible."
The bulk of the negotiating took place in a 24-hour window, which was kick-started by agent Seth Levinson having lunch with Alderson in Manhattan. By the time the serious talks ended with a contract in the early, early morning hours, Wright was not in a celebrating type of mood.
"I was exhausted," he said.
Wright, who already had financial security, did not splurge in celebration, unless you count the engagement ring he soon thereafter gave to fiancée Molly Beers, a model to whom the third baseman proposed later in the month in his native Virginia.
Wright noted he comes from a "pretty conservative family." His father, Rhon, is an assistant police chief in Norfolk, Va. His mother, Elisa, is a school aide. At Christmas, his modest purchase for his parents was matching Beach Cruiser bikes.
"I don't know if that's glamorous, but that's what they wanted," Wright said. "So that's what they got."
Wright said having his baseball career settled and proposing to Beers weeks later was coincidence.
"Probably for the same reason as anyone else does," Wright said about becoming engaged. "I'd like to think I'm a little more mature and wiser than I was nine, 10 years ago. It just seemed like a nice fit. We've known each other for long enough to know each other pretty well."
They apparently still have to learn a little more about each other, though.
Asked about his fiancée's modeling career, he confessed: "To be honest with you, I don't really know what she does. I think it's just mostly commercials and some print stuff."
Any particular product?
"I've got no idea," Wright said. "No idea."
Wright is a pitch man, too. Alderson enlisted him to make a recruiting call to free-agent Michael Bourn this offseason. Still, Wright suggested making pitches at the request of the front office is a rare occurrence.
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"A lot of times guys are signed and I find out about it the same way that everybody else does," Wright said. "There's been a couple of occasions where I read or hear about interesting guys. I'm obviously willing, but it's Sandy's decision ultimately if he wants me to try to get involved. And it's not so much recruiting.
"I know that I would appreciate it if I was in [Bourn's] situation, if the teams that were interested in him, a representative of the team, a player, called and answered any questions -- especially in New York. It can be not so much intimidating, but overwhelming -- where to live and this and that. It's just nice to be able to talk to these guys."
As for having turned 30 on Dec. 20, Wright said he feels great. He is working smarter, though, as a concession to his age.
"It's more about just the quality," Wright said. "It's not about going in there and trying to work out hours upon hours to get as strong as you possibly can. It's more about doing things that are baseball-related, especially with me. I know what my body needs now to make it through the season. I work according to that, not lifting all sorts of weights for the sake of lifting them."
Overall, he predictably feels fortunate.
Said Wright: "A lot of people don't get the luxury and aren't as fortunate to be able to know that they're going to be in the same place for eight years. I'm very lucky."