David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
This was bound to happen. With Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon cranking up the contract-talk rhetoric earlier this week, David Wright dropped the big one Friday by informing the Mets that he will not engage in any extension talk during the season.
Boom. Just like that, it was over. Thanks for playing. See you in November. Any hope of the Mets moving quickly -- and covertly -- to erase the uncertainty surrounding their franchise third baseman had vanished.
Not that Wright is leaving anytime soon. While his six-year, $55-million contract expires at the end of this season, the Mets hold a $16-million option for 2013, and one they surely plan to exercise if a deal cannot be struck before then.
That trump card is what led Wilpon to suggest Wednesday "there's no gun to anybody's head" as far as Wright's negotiations are concerned. The day before that, Alderson went out of his way to mention he intended to contact Wright's agents at some point this season, but not necessarily to complete a new extension.
Stuck in the middle was Wright, having to fend off the subsequent interrogations from the media, and that act got tired quickly. Wright was a good sport back in spring training in the wake of his close friend Ryan Zimmerman getting a five-year, $100-million extension, but even then, he half-joked about pulling the plug on his own contract talk before it became a daily ritual.
Now Wright is serious, and he made that crystal-clear Friday in his pregame comments to WFAN.
"Every day there just seems like there's rumors or there's different stories here and there, and it's really all to do about nothing," Wright said during the radio interview. "So I've made a decision along with my representatives that we will not discuss a contract during this season -- or next for that matter."
Wright said the elevated chatter already was becoming too much of a distraction, and although such talk is part of the business, he felt it was too selfish to let it affect the vibe in the clubhouse. One important thing to note: Wright brought up Jose Reyes' contract situation of a year ago, which hogged the spotlight around the Mets -- until the shortstop shut it down on June 23.
"The last thing I want to do is come in every day and talk about another person's contract," Wright told WFAN.
We all know how the Reyes negotiations played out. Even after the season, the two sides never got on the same page, and the Mets didn't make Reyes an offer before he bolted.
This, of course, is a much different scenario. The Mets not only have the luxury of time with Wright but seem to be on more stable ground for the future. The Mets weren't blindsided by Wright's decision, but it did come as a bit of surprise.
They also don't feel it's an obstacle to getting a long-term deal done eventually, according to a person familiar with the situation. It will take longer to make that happen, obviously. Despite Wright's growing frustration this week, his interest in staying with the Mets seems sincere.
"I've said it once, I've said it a million times," Wright told WFAN. "I love it here."
That loyalty already is being tested, and Friday's decision to cut off any contract talks -- before either side had picked up the telephone -- is one of the first times Wright has put his foot down with the Mets. It's not unusual for that to happen when players near the end of their contracts, but what happens at the end of this season will have a lasting effect on Wright's future. For the Mets'sake, they'd better hope he feels like talking then.