New York Mets third baseman David Wright's defense has been pretty good to Gold Glove caliber for a long time. Until 2015.
His issues went largely unnoticed during his 38 games in the regular season because the Mets were winning. From 2012 to 2014, Wright averaged 11 defensive runs saved per season, and his total of 34 ranked fifth at the position. But in those 38 games in 2015, his defensive value cost the Mets eight runs.
In October, particularly in Game 1 and Game 5 of the World Series, the miscues became magnified. Wright’s 14th-inning error started the eventual winning rally for the Kansas City Royals in Game 1. In Game 5, his slow throw to first base was a contributing factor to Eric Hosmer being able to race home with the tying run in the ninth inning.
If you watched Wright in his return from spinal stenosis, those sorts of throws were common. His arm, which has never been a strength, now consistently loops throws across the diamond. The difference between the strength of his throws and Juan Uribe's throws is immense. And that’s for good reason. Wright's injury is serious and significant.
The solution here may be a transition period. Wright could begin learning another position (the most logical option is first base) and play it 20 to 30 times in 2016 (he could spell Lucas Duda against the tough lefties). Perhaps he could discuss and learn from the experiences of a friend who transitioned to first, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
Wright is capable of holding his own at the position from an offensive perspective. He's not going to hit 30 home runs, but he should hit 20 over a full season, and his on-base percentage in his return (.379) was solid.
The Mets have at least one other option to play third base when Wright plays first (Wilmer Flores) and could have another if they re-sign Uribe or Kelly Johnson.
Then, they could transition Wright to the position full-time in 2017, at which time he'll be 34. The Mets could then shop Duda if needed and probably get good value for him, so long as he bumps up his batting average a bit from his .244 in 2015.
Wright has five years and $87 million left on his contract. He's taking up a lot of payroll. The Mets would do well to maximize his value by making sure they're getting the best out of him in the short and long term. It's the right (and Wright) thing to do.