Captain David Wright is returning to the Mets — but in a new job.
The team announced Monday that Wright will join the front office as a special assistant to chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. The team also announced that Wright, who has two years and $27 million left on the $138-million contract he signed in November 2012, has agreed to be released from the 40-man roster.
“David Wright is an iconic Met and will be forever remembered for his contributions on the field as well as his numerous charitable endeavors,” Wilpon said in a statement. “David attended the recent winter meetings at the suggestion of myself and Brodie Van Wagenen where he contributed throughout with our baseball operations group and wanted to pursue this route. We are thrilled he will remain close to the Mets family and will be a great asset in this new role.”
Wright, 36, is expected to be involved in several different facets of the organization.
Wright said in the statement: “I again want to thank the Wilpon and [Saul] Katz families for everything they have done for myself and my family. I will always be tremendously grateful for the way the fans treated me, because playing in this city and for this team was a dream come true. I look forward to contributing and taking on the challenges of this new role.”
Last September, during Wright’s final days as an active player because of numerous injuries, the third baseman said he would take some time off to think about his next move but indicated that he wanted to remain in baseball.
“I’d love to stay involved,’’ he told SNY at the time. “I love being around the game. I obviously love the organization. So I think I could provide value.”
Many former star players have landed front-office or advisory roles with their teams. Reggie Jackson has had a long-term position with the Yankees, for whom Alex Rodriguez also is a special adviser.
Terry Collins, Wright’s former manager and a special assistant to Van Wagenen, said Wright is the perfect fit.
“He’s one of my favorite guys that I’ve ever been around with my whole life,’’ Collins said in a phone interview. “I’m really happy for him. This is just going to give him something to stay busy and stay involved in the game that he loves. It’s great. He takes the game seriously. David’s going to do a great job.
“I saw him at the winter meetings, I asked him what he was going to do. He said, ‘I’m not really sure yet,’ so I think this is a great step for him. He’s got something concrete and he can sink his teeth into it and go after it. There was probably a part of him that knew his chances of coming back were thin. I just think this is another avenue for him to go to make a difference not only with the Mets but in baseball.’’
Wright was limited to a total of 77 games over the last four seasons because of back, neck and shoulder injuries. He returned to the active roster last September and made two appearances, one as a pinch hitter. His final start at third base on Sept. 29 essentially became David Wright Night at Citi Field as he gave an emotional farewell speech to the capacity crowd. Wright went 0-for-2 with a walk in those final appearances.
Wright, a seven-time All-Star, was named captain in 2013. He is the franchise leader in hits (1,777), RBIs (970), runs (949), doubles (390), total bases (2,945), extra-base hits (658), walks (761) and at-bats (5,998).
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