Posted on June 16, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After much thought and consideration, New York Mets’ third baseman David Wright will undergo surgery to treat a herniated disc in his neck. The surgery will be performed Thursday by Dr. Robert Watkins, who treated Wright while he rehabbed last season after being diagnosed with a chronic back condition called spinal stenosis. The Mets have not set a timetable for Wright’s return, although it’s possible the surgery will keep him out for the remainder of the 2016 season.
Wright last played on May 27, and actually hit his third home run in as many games on that day. However, the pain in his neck forced him to the sidelines and after missing a week of action, the Mets finally put him on the 15-day DL. Since then, Wright has treated the neck condition with rest, rehab, and anti-inflammatory injections, but the condition does not appear to have improved to Wright’s satisfaction.
“After trying every way to get back on the field, I’ve come to realize that it’s best for me, my teammates and the organization to proceed with surgery at this time,” Wright said in a statement Thursday. “My neck simply did not respond to any of the treatments of the past few weeks. While incredibly frustrating and disappointing, I am determined to make a full recovery and get back on the field as soon as I can to help the Mets win. I greatly appreciate the support of my teammates and our fans throughout the last few weeks.”
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The Mets say Wright’s return to the field “will be determined based on the results of the procedure and the progress of his recovery.” Had Wright stuck with rest and rehab, it’s unlikely he would have been able to return before the middle of August, and that would have been the best-case scenario. With the surgery, it’s possible that Wright’s 2016 season is over, especially considering his chronic back condition and the fact that he would need to have a mini-spring training all over again once cleared for baseball activities.
The Mets do have insurance on Wright’s contract, and once he spends 60 days on the DL they will be able to recoup 75% of his salary. This will save them some money, as it did last season when he was forced to miss a large chunk of the season. However, Wright is signed through 2020, and how much of that contract he’ll be able to fulfill is an even bigger question than it was when the season started.
For the time being, Wilmer Flores is New York’s every day third baseman in Wright’s absence, with Kelly Johnson expected to fill in as well. However, now that the Mets know that Wright’s return in 2016 is a long shot at best, it opens the door for the Mets to pursue a full-time third baseman on the trade market this summer. GM Sandy Alderson has said at the moment there is little available in terms of full-time replacements, although recent Cuban defector Yulieski Gourriel could become an option after recently being declared an MLB free agent. At the moment, nothing is imminent with regard to the Mets acquiring a third baseman.