Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics and first baseman Daric Barton have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. He could earn an additional $250,000 with incentives.
Barton, 27, earned the same $1.1 million this past season while batting just .204/.338/.292 with one home run and a .630 OPS in 136 plate appearances at the major league level. He really struggled with the bat before being demoted to the minors in early June and was used mostly as a defensive replacement when he returned as a September call-up. Shoulder problems have prevented him from replicating the success he had back in 2010.
As Slusser notes, Barton’s deal is not guaranteed, so the A’s could give him the boot during spring training and only be responsible for a portion of the contract. Brandon Moss and Chris Carter are still around as in-house options for first base, so Barton has his work cut out for him in order to secure a roster spot.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.