Must 'C'? Wright in line to earn Mets' captain title
Third baseman would be team's first player to hold honor in nearly decade
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- David Wright is already the longest-tenured active Met, with nine seasons behind him and eight more guaranteed years to come. He will be with the organization at least through 2020 and has established himself as the unquestioned clubhouse leader.
It is only natural, then, that the Mets would consider honoring him with their first captainship in nearly a decade.
Now that Wright has inked a long-term contract extension, that much is likely to happen soon. But general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins will not put a "C" on Wright's jersey until they discuss the matter with his teammates in Spring Training.
"I think David's already the captain," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. "It doesn't need somebody to say, 'You're the captain.' The best way to have leadership, and what David has shown, is leadership without having to have a 'C' on his chest or somebody name him captain."
Still, official titles matter, with captain ranking among the rarest in baseball. The Mets have employed only three captains in their history, bestowing the title on Keith Hernandez in 1987 and making Gary Carter his co-captain 1988-89. The Mets then awarded John Franco the captainship from 2001-04.
Wright, who made his big league debut in 2004 and has since appeared in the third-most games in franchise history, may be next.
"I think what Terry and Sandy and I have talked about is if the players come in spring and say, 'Listen, we really want David to be the captain and be named the captain,' then I'm sure Terry will bring that back and we'll do something like that," Wilpon said. "But for right now, to me, David's the captain. He's longest-tenured and he commands the respect in the clubhouse."
Throughout baseball, captainships are becoming increasingly rare. Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Paul Konerko of the White Sox are the game's only current captains; even Chipper Jones, who played his entire 19-year career with the Braves, never held the title.
Wright said Wednesday that he strives to be like Jeter, Jones and his boyhood idol Cal Ripken Jr., playing his entire career for one team.
"I think there's something to be said for that and I'm very proud of that," Wright said. "Being drafted at 18 by this organization, groomed, developed, making your big league debut with your favorite team growing up, having the opportunity for my family and friends to almost start bleeding blue and orange -- it was a no-brainer for me."
Part of the reason the Mets have employed so few captains over the years is because they have never had a franchise player spend his entire career in Flushing. Hernandez, Carter, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and Jose Reyes -- a who's who list of the brightest stars in franchise history -- all either left midway through their careers or established themselves elsewhere before joining the Mets.
Wright is the one man who was born a Met and stayed. By the end of his new deal, he could be the longest-tenured captain in franchise history, more synonymous with his team than anyone who came before him.
"It's humbling," Wright said. "It means a lot. It's something I take a lot of pride in. But ultimately I think that's up to my teammates. That's up to the staff and the front office. If they view me in that way, then that's a responsibility that I'll take very seriously and that obviously I'll welcome. I'd like to hear it from them or have it be their decision."