- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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"I don't think that you can sit here and say that it's going to have no effect on the clubhouse when you're talking about kind of the family -- really, the head of the family," Wright said Monday, after working out with more than two dozen other players on a voluntary basis at the team's Florida complex.
Principal owner Fred Wilpon, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and team president Saul Katz are defendants in a lawsuit alleging they profited from convicted felon Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. While the Wilpons say they had no idea Madoff was doing anything illegal, the ownership family nonetheless has announced its intention to sell 20 to 25 percent of the team to pay for any potential settlement in the case.
Outside observers speculate the family may eventually be forced to sell completely.
"When something is going on with them, of course it's going trickle down," Wright said. "You have to understand that unfortunately there's some great parts about this business and there's some situations like this.
"As close as I've gotten with the Wilpon family, it kind of hurts to see them go through this and kind of be attacked the way they're being attacked. I've talked to them, and just wanted to let them know that we have their backs and we support them. I kind of feel for what they're having to go through. So hopefully this all works itself out and we can get back to playing baseball. But this is really the best remedy -- getting down here and getting on a baseball field."
Wright is signed for two more years, with the Mets also holding an option for 2013, so his short-term future should not be impacted by the team's potentially precarious finances. But shortstop Jose Reyes -- the only player now with more time at the major league level with the Mets than Wright -- is due to be a free agent after this season. The Mets exercised an $11 million option on Reyes for 2011.
As it is, the front office, led by general manager Sandy Alderson, may conclude Reyes is not a worthwhile investment if another team is poised to offer him a contract similar to what outfielder Jayson Werth received from the Nationals (seven years, $126 million). Now, potentially, payroll limitations because of the litigation cloud could make it even more difficult for the Mets to retain Reyes.
"My goal is for Jose to come out here and have an All-Star-caliber year, carry us into the playoffs and then it really forces kind of the hand a little bit," Wright said. "I think everything takes care of itself if he goes out there and has the kind of year that I think he's going to. I think the best idea going into this year is going out there and making the front office, and making whoever, realize that he's a tremendous player, that he's a dynamic player. I think he makes everybody on this team better when he's healthy."
Wright acknowledges he wonders if he and Reyes will be lifelong Mets.
"We've talked about it," Wright said. "We have a special relationship with the organization because they drafted us, developed us. They made us into the players we are today. I'll forever be thankful to the organization. I know he feels the same way. But ultimately, especially with Jose's contract being up after this year, it's up to him and it's up to the front office. If I get a vote, or if I get a say, I want him playing to the left of me, and I want him hitting leadoff in the lineup that I'm in, because I think he makes me a better player."