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For a team that normally has the PR touch of the airline industry, the Mets related with the public pretty well on Tuesday.
Through a series of well-orchestrated leaks, the Mets almost totally flipped the tone of their negotiations with David Wright. No longer is the big question whether or not the Mets are going to try to squeeze every penny when it comes to a new deal with their third baseman.
It is know whether or not Wright will be true to his stated desire to remain with the Mets for his entire career. They accomplished it by dripping out information in an exceedingly clever way.
The day started with a report that the Mets would tack on six years and $100 million to Wright's $16 million contract for the 2013 season, a number that doesn't seem nearly high enough to get Wright to forgo a look at the open market after next year. By the end of the day, though, the deal had added another year and enough money to take the total value past what the Mets gave Johan Santana in 2008.
It would be for less per year, but the total value would be higher and that would make Wright the recipient of more money from the Mets than any other player in history. He's certainly worthy of that and it plays very well in a banner headline announcing the deal.
So we should get ready for a press conference, right? You haven't been following the Mets that long if you thought things would be that easy.
Wright wrote to MLBTradeRumors.com that reports were inaccurate, although he declined to say what exactly was inaccurate about them. That confirms which side was making the leaks and, in a followup to the Post, he said he had hoped everything would remain private.
This should all sound familiar to those who paid attention to Derek Jeter's negotiation with the Yankees a couple of years ago. The Yankees never quite put the squeeze on Jeter, but they did successfully put his willingness to prioritize being a Yankee up for discussion in a way that seemed unthinkable when the process got underway.
The Mets are doing the same to Wright, especially with the Post reporting that the snag has to do with how much money in the contract will be deferred. It's something the Mets have done with plenty of their deals (hi, Bobby Bonilla!), usually investing the money with Bernard Madoff, and it isn't the kind of thing that would play all that well for Wright if he makes it the reason why the deal doesn't go forward.
Assuming that it even would be the reason. The problem with Wright's stance, at least at the moment, is that the story gets to be told by the other side.
The story Sandy Alderson is telling is one that many people will think has a happy ending for the Wright who said he wants to remain with the Mets. It might not be entirely true, but it is the only story out there and it protects the Mets from accusations that they didn't try hard enough to sign Wright.
Having said all that, there's little reason to think that things are heading for a breakup. The money is in the right neighborhood and, as the Jeter saga also reminds us, the details can be smoothed over awfully quickly when the biggest detail is right.