Mets Mailbag: How far along is David Wright in recovery and can team keep Jay Bruce if it signs Yoenis Cespedes?

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How healthy David Wright will be next season is a big question mark.

Well, we’re still here waiting for Yoenis Cespedes to make his move. The Mets’ “deadline” of the end of the Winter Meetings to wrap things up and re-sign the Cuban slugger is quickly approaching, but until that is done, the Mets and their fans have nothing to do but wait.

So, once again, while we wait, let’s talk Mets. I’ll try to answer a few of the questions e-mailed to me by readers.

My questions concerned David Wright and his recovery from spinal fusion surgery.

1. Which cervical vertebrae were fused? I had 4-5 and 5-6 fused around same time and was wondering his condition.

2. How far along in his rehab is he and will he be able to play this spring?

— Richard Roosa

Well, the Mets and Wright have not been exactly forthcoming about his back/neck issues (remember when they slipped up and admitted his nagging back injury was in fact spinal stenosis?), so we don’t know exactly what vertebrae were affected when he had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck last summer.

According to Sandy Alderson, Wright has not begin baseball activities, but there would be no reason for him to do so yet. Most players will not pick up a back until next month at the earliest. Last year, dealing with the spinal stenosis, Wright worked his way into spring slowly and I would imagine that will be the same schedule this year.

The Mets GM said earlier this month they are “optimistic” Wright will be able to contribute this season, but admitted they realistically do not know what to expect from him. Last year they came in boldly predicting 130 games for Wright, but Alderson deferred putting a number out there for this season.

Jay Bruce hugs Yoenis Cespedes.

My question for the mailbag is this: Is there ANY way that the Mets can keep Jay Bruce even if they sign Céspedes? If David Wright returns to form (I know, big if), and Lucas Duda has a bounce-back year, that middle lineup could be dangerous.

— Dennis Rustom

Sure, they could keep Bruce if they re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, but they don’t want to. Part of the reason the Mets have said they can’t wait out Cespedes into January, like they did last year, is because they have to make moves to fit Cespedes in their outfield and their payroll.

The Mets are looking to keep their payroll under $140 million and they expect Cespedes, if they can sign him, to take up every spare penny they have.

They picked up the $13 million option on Bruce in part as insurance in case they do not get Cespedes back. A career .248 hitter who averages 31 home runs and 94 RBI, Bruce struggled in New York, but the notoriously streaky hitter started to show life at the end of the season. He hit .444 with four home runs and eight RBI in his final 10 games. Other teams will write off his struggles as his discomfort with playing in New York and be willing to pay a fair price for him.

And you are right, having David Wright, Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce all healthy and in one lineup would be impressive — and very unlikely.

I was wondering what your thoughts were on trying to make the versatile Jose Reyes the next Ian Desmond? Assuming David Wright comes back to play 75-100 games next year(which I don’t!), and with the Mets in need of a center fielder and leadoff hitter, why not try to teach Reyes to pay the outfield? His range, athleticism and strong arm would all be an asset and on days he didn’t need to spell Wright, this would keep his bat and speed in the lineup. I’m interested in your thoughts?

— Randy Bluth

Funny you should bring up Desmond, that is exactly whom Sandy Alderson mentioned when the Mets signed Reyes this summer. They had every intention of him playing some outfield last season and Reyes did some pregame work out there. I agree, his range, athleticism and strong arm would probably allow him to transition to center field fairly easily.

The Mets are looking at Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson at center right now if they re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, with Granderson likely to move back to right if the Mets can move Jay Bruce.

But the Mets want to keep Reyes, their best option for a lead-off hitter, atop their lineup, so there is a very good chance they will try using him out there this spring and see how it goes.

Gut feeling on these three players and if they will be with the Mets in 2017: Kelly Johnson, Jerry Blevins, R Rivera

— Paul J. DeGiacomo (?@degiap01)

The Mets would have been lost without these three in 2016, but it’s unlikely they are back in 2017.

Jerry Blevins is likely going to get a multi-year deal that is out of the Mets’ price range. They had some talks with him about coming back, but he’s probably gone. Rene Rivera was Noah Syndergaard’s personal catcher and split the starting duties with Travis d’Arnaud. Rivera is in his third year of arbitration eligibility and expected to make over $2 million next season. The Mets would like him back, but that is a little rich for a back-up catcher. Kelly Johnson has been a good fit with the Mets the last two seasons and I could see them trying to bring him back on a cheap, one-year deal, but it’s not a priority.