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David Wright, a flickering candle on a floundering team, is sticking around for what he hopes will be a Mets renaissance.
In a post-midnight deal, the Mets and Wright agreed to an eight-year, $138 million contract early Friday morning. The pact, first reported by WFAN's Ed Coleman, makes Wright the highest-paid player in franchise history and one of the richest third basemen in the history of the sport.
More importantly - barring a trade somewhere down the line - it will make him a Met for life. The 29-year-old will try to help resurrect a franchise that has finished fourth in the National League East for four straight seasons.
"I know just talking to David he wanted to stay, wanted to be a Met," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "I have no idea how long he's going to play, but I think in our age today, it's a great statement that the guy wants to stay and the organization wants to keep him start to finish. I always thought David was going to do the right thing and stay here."
Reached over email Friday morning, Wright said, "Can't talk yet. Sorry."
Wright, a six-time All-Star, is already one of the most decorated Mets in franchise history. This past season, he set all-time team records for both hits (1,426) and RBI (818). He has 204 home runs-48 shy of the all-time lead.
He had a bounceback season in 2012, hitting .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. Wright flirted with .400 for a few months before coming back to earth. He carried the Mets offense for the first three months of the season, allowing the team to contend until the All-Star break.
"He's the consummate pro," Collins said. "That's why I've said all along, for me, if I'm a young player, I'm going to follow him around. And whatever he does, I'm going to try to do."
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters in October that he would use the team's young pitching as part of his sales pitch. Matt Harvey went 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA during his first season in the majors. Zack Wheeler, the team's other blue chip pitching prospect, could be up in the big leagues sometime this coming season.
"I'm always optimistic," Wright said back in October. "Judging by some of the young arms we have, judging by some of the progress that the guys who have been here for a few years have made, I have a ton of faith and confidence in Sandy and his staff to make this team better."
So now Alderson and his staff get the chance to mold a new foundation around Wright. The team still has plenty of holes.
When the Winter Meetings open next week, the Mets will be searching for players to populate their outfield. It would help if they can find a righthanded-hitting catcher who has a little pop in his bat.
And there is still the matter of deciding how to proceed with R.A. Dickey-the 2012 Cy Young Award winner. The Mets picked up Dickey's option earlier this offseason, but the two sides have been trying to piece together an extension that will keep Dickey in Queens. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has acknowledged that the team has explored trading the 38-year-old Dickey if they cannot come to terms.
For the moment, at least one major chess piece has been locked up long term.
Collins said he had an inkling that both sides were close. But like most Mets fans, the manager said he only learned the deal was complete when he woke up Friday morning and found four voicemails waiting for him.
"It really helps us going into spring training that we can get ourselves prepared without something hanging over our heads," Collins said.