The Hot Stove League is officially heating up. For some teams that means making careful plans for upgrading their roster based off thoughtful planning and complex research. Others, well, they just hope to use hocum and misdirection. Take for example the New York Mets:
In other words, if the Mets could find the young, defensive-oriented center fielder they crave plus an arm or two in exchange for [David] Wright, they will seriously consider it.
Or maybe you like this similar story from a different paper:
A National League executive who has spoken with Sandy Alderson recently told The News last week that the GM would have to be “bowled over” to deal Wright before next season, and a Mets person predicted that Wright’s situation would remain “status quo” until then.
Oh, you silly Mets and your not-so-subtle sales tactics. It is an age old trick used in baseball trades for decades: if you have a player with declining value, just go to the media and try and conjure up some fake value. That might’ve worked back when Sandy Alderson first started running ballclubs, but front offices are smarter now and won’t be fooled by this media-led smoke and mirrors show.
Sorry, Mets, but your beloved David Wright just doesn’t have the trade value you think he has and his true value might not be anywhere close to it either. Don’t believe me? Let’s break it down Mythbusters-style.
Myth #1 – The Mets are incredibly reluctant to trade Wright
This one is pure BS from the very start. If Alderson is so reticent to let Wright go, then he has a funny way of showing it. Last time I checked, GMs that didn’t want to trade a player didn’t allow multiple stories in multiple outlets to report that he is willing to trade Wright “if the price is right.” That’s just fancy general manager obfuscation speak for “I very much want to trade this player but I can’t just come out and say it because I would lose negotiating leverage, plus our fans would kill me.” Contrast that against what Walt Jocketty did when speculation arose that the Reds could be willing to move Joey Votto. He came right out himself and said in no uncertain terms that he will not trade Votto and that everyone should shut up about it. Now that’s how you tell people a player isn’t for sale. – BUSTED!
Myth #2 – The Mets would have to be bowled over to trade Wright
As much as they might not want to admit it, the Mets are in rebuilding mode. They are going to lose Jose Reyes in free agency, have holes all over their roster and are slashing payroll due to their owners’ financial fumblings (Thanks, Bernie Madoff!). Since they don’t have a lot of major assets to trade right now, they have to get as much as they can for the one they do have, David Wright. Making matters worse, the loss of fan-favorite Reyes isn’t going to go over well with the Met faithful, though they seem to be prepared for it. But losing Wright too in the same off-season? That could cause a fan uprising, that is unless they get a maximum return on David. In that respect, the Mets are overvaluing Wright, but only because they have to. At the end of the day, Alderson will take the best offer he gets for Wright, but it probably only needs to slightly dislodge his socks rather than knock them all the way off. – CONFIRMED, sort of!
Myth #3 – Wright is a third baseman
One of the best things Wright’s value has going for it is that he is a third baseman since there are so few quality hot corner bats in the league right now. That would be great for the Mets… if it were actually true. Yes, technically Wright plays third base. He has for his entire career, but that doesn’t make him an actual third baseman. I mean, Jeff Mathis gets a lot of at-bats, so he is technically a hitter, but we all know he isn’t. The same logic applies to Wright’s status at the hot corner. He might have been able to handle the position early in his career, but in his last three seasons has posted UZRs of slightly worse than -10 and defensive runs saved between -7 and -13. Given that Wright is entering his thirties and dealing with health problems already, the odds of him lasting at third base for much longer is minimal. Any team trading for him and planning on signing him to a long-term contract extension should only be doing so if they plan to move him to DH or first base well before the end of that extension. That makes him suddenly not quite so valuable, no?. – BUSTED!
Myth #4 – Wright is an established slugger
Again, the one thing that Alderson really needs here is a time machine. Wright had been posting an OPS easily over .900 through 2008, but since then, he has been in steady decline. His OPSs the last three seasons have been .837, .856 and .771, respectively. Not to mention that his line drive percentage has taken a nose dive, as has his ISO and BABIP. Those aren’t terrible numbers and injury definitely played a role, but they still aren’t good enough to convince some unsuspecting team to cough a premium package of prospects. – BUSTED!
Myth #5 – The Mets can hold on to Wright and watch his value grow thanks to the moved in fences at Citi Field
This is just stupid. To begin with, the very idea that Wright is going to start cranking homers again because the fences have been moved in is hardly a certainty. But the truly absurd notion is that if it does happen other GMs will be fooled by it. Really, who is going to say, “Wow! Wright is back and just crushing the ball at home. Surely it has nothing to do with the fences being thirty feet closer. I simply must have him!” My guess is they will realize that Wright’s home-road splits are actually pretty similar the last three years and they’ll completely ignore any disproportionate boost in production at home in 2011. – BUSTED!
Myth #6 – Trading for Wright is a long-term investment
When it comes to trading for star players, getting full value is impossible to do if the player is viewed as a rental. Even if the Mets trade him this off-season, he is essentially a one-year rental. He has a club option for 2013, but he can void it if he gets traded. The odds of him opting to void the option in the event of a trade is roughly 101%, give or take one percent. Given that his body is steadily breaking down, Wright best get to free agency as soon as possible if he wants to guarantee himself one more massive long-term contract. Sorry, Mets, but nobody is going to gut their farm system unless they can get Wright to promise to not void the option. Heck, they might not do it unless he agrees to a long-term extension. – BUSTED!
Myth #7 – Wright is a safe investment
As I alluded to before, the big black mark on Wright’s trade resume is his spotty health history the last few years. The first major concern is the concussion Wright suffered at the end of his already disappointing 2009 season. He isn’t showing ill effects of that concussion right now, but who knows what will happen if he takes another blow to his head. If you aren’t clear about what I mean by that, just ask the nearest Twin fan how they feel about Justin Morneau since his concussion. But that isn’t even the biggest red flag. Wright was limited to 102 games last season because he BROKE HIS FREAKING BACK. Please note that is not an exaggeration. He actually broke suffered a stress fracture in his lower back. One of the most basic rules in baseball is that back injuries and power hitters don’t mix. For anyone to trade valuable assets for him after that injury, they will either have to have an insane amount of confidence in the team chiropractor, or be just plain insane. – BUSTED!
So, there you have it. Wright’s trade value doesn’t get much more busted. Maybe the Mets can get a reasonable package of prospects for him, but there is no chance that they are going to bring back a treasure trove of budding stars that will instantly replenish their farm system.