David Wright has officially elected to undergo surgery to fix a herniated disc. The New York Mets have not announced a timetable for his return as of yet, though, with only three and a half months remaining, it could mean the end of his 2016 season.
The third baseman hasn't appeared in a game since the end of May due to the issue. It was reported Wright would consider surgery with the consultation of Dr. Robert Watkins, the back specialist that helped him with his recovery, rehab, and treatment of spinal stenosis last season.
BREAKING: David Wright will undergo surgery today to repair a herniated disc in his neck. #Mets— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 16, 2016
Per DiComo's report, Wright is "incredibly frustrated and disappointed" with the news, though he is "determined to make a full recovery and get back on the field."
Despite dealing with spinal stenosis and his neck issue, Wright has been productive at the plate this year. Though his .226 batting average is underwhelming at best, and his strikeout rate is the highest of his career, Wright has also been taking walks at an increased rate, and generating 21 percent more offense than the league average by wRC+.
Furthermore, when Wright has made contact, he has generated substantial pop. His seven home runs already eclipsed his 2015 total of five while making 10 fewer plate appearances. That being said, Wright's defense has seemed to take substantial cuts from his injury troubles. He was on his way to posting his worst season by UZR and DRS while committing four errors.
Last week, the Mets acquired utility fielder Kelly Johnson from the Atlanta Braves. While that move helps with infield depth, it won't do much to generate the lost production of Wright. Johnson has mostly played second base since coming over to the Mets, sharing the load with Neil Walker also out of the lineup due to a back injury.
Wilmer Flores has covered third base in Wright's stead, but has been below replacement level in doing so. Flores is hitting nine percent worse than the league average by wRC+ and has cost his team nearly three runs by FanGraphs' defensive metric. It's not like Flores to be defensively unreliable though. The natural shortstop could just be going through a tough adjustment to the hot corner; one that could be ironed out with more work.
With the trade deadline looming, it's somewhat uncertain which third basemen will be made available. That being said, Sandy Alderson and the Mets' front office may have to seriously consider acquiring the seemingly-available Danny Valencia or Trevor Plouffe.
Once known almost solely as a lefty-masher, Valencia has made himself indispensable in the Oakland Athletics' lineup even against right-handed pitching. While he still shows significant platoon splits, Valencia is 19 percent better than the league average at hitting like-handed pitching this season. That skill has made him the best hitter so far this season among third basemen with at least 180 plate appearances. Valencia is heading into his final arbitration-eligible season.
The floundering Minnesota Twins could also be looking to rid themselves of their third baseman by deadline time. However, the Mets may not be that desperate. The 30-year old Plouffe is having his worst season at the plate, and isn't doing any better in the field either. Perhaps a change of scenery would be best, though it's unlikely the Twins are in a position to demand any kind of substantial return. Plouffe's $7.2 million contract expires at the end of this season at which point he heads into his final offseason of arbitration eligibility.
Whether the Mets decide to chase an external option could also be incumbent on their prospect depth. Though he is a natural shortstop, Gavin Cecchini is currently with Triple-A Las Vegas with a batting line of .320/.386/.432. While the dry Nevada air is known for inflating offensive statistics, Cecchini performed very well at the plate with Double-A Binghamton last year as well. The 22-year old could earn himself a call-up if the Mets find themselves in need.