Mets send a message with signings

Mets send a message with signings

NEW YORK -- One glance at the standings in the National League East will tell you that the New York Mets' present is just fine. But within the space of a few days, this organization also has taken two major steps to secure its future.

The Mets announced Sunday that they had signed third baseman David Wright to a six-year, $55-million contract extension with a club option for a seventh year. This followed by three days the announcement of the signing of shortstop Jose Reyes to a four-year extension with a club option for a fifth year.

Nobody else in baseball has a left side of the infield with the future potential that the Mets have in Wright and Reyes. And now the Mets have locked up that potential for the foreseeable future.

"It means a lot to us in the baseball operations department," general manager Omar Minaya said, "because it means that we can build around the nucleus that we continue to talk about."

The two signings, Minaya suggested, also send a message to Mets fans that this organization will do what it takes financially to maintain a winner over the long haul. More specifically, Minaya also noted that you could now buy either a David Wright or a Jose Reyes Mets T-shirt secure in the knowledge that it would not soon become obsolete. Even the pink David Wright shirt would not be out of bounds in this regard.

The Mets are giving the impression of being one big, happy, healthy and relatively well-to-do family these days. The impression does not appear to be a stretch.

"It's humbling, I think that's the word," Wright said of his new deal. "It's exciting, but it's humbling that they're willing to make this kind of commitment to you."

"He's happy," Reyes said of Wright. "I gave him a hug and said: 'Congratulations. We're going to be together here for a long time now.'"

Reyes and Wright were going to be inextricably linked as the core of the Mets' future, but now it's official. Their talents are obviously different, but their career paths and their hopes for the future are taking on striking similarities.

"It's special," Wright said. "Both of us are 23, we both came up through the system and we both have a love, a passion for this organization. This is what we know and we both want to be here for a long time.

"I've always wanted to be a lifelong New York Met, and this is the first step in that direction."

The signing of a player who is still a year away from being arbitration-eligible to a long-term deal is not standard practice, but this is not a standard situation. Wright is a player the Mets can build around on the field, but he is also an individual they can build around off the field.

Reyes is senior to Wright in Major League service class, so the Mets attended to his extension first. As soon as his deal was completed, the Mets wanted to see if Wright could be wrapped up contractually as well, as long the process did not become a distraction to the current season. This relatively brief process resulted in more of a celebration than a distraction.

At the public announcement of Wright's extension on Sunday, everyone involved thanked Mets ownership, as well everyone might have. This ownership has given Minaya the resources to not only field a winner now, but in this case to take steps to retain the services of two extraordinarily talented players for years to come. Very little is certain in baseball, but the future of the Mets looks a lot brighter when it includes Reyes and Wright.

One of Wright's agents, Seth Levinson, made the point on Sunday that in organizations that have failed there is often "a wedge" between the players and ownership. But the Mets, Levinson said, seem much more to be "embracing" their players.

Wright and Reyes are two players who are certainly worth the effort of a hearty organizational hug. A very positive atmosphere exists around this operation now, a we're-all-in-this-together mentality. But there is also nothing wrong with a tangible sign of support, such as, well, the money.

With these two signings, the Mets send everyone, from their fans to their competitors, the distinct message of their long-term intentions. This organization looks at the success it has enjoyed in the first two-thirds of the 2006 season, not as a destination, but as a beginning.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.