It’s no secret Sandy Alderson has his work cut out for him this offseason. Coming off a 74-win season, while in his third year as general manager of the New York Mets, Alderson’s current objective is to define the direction in which the franchise is heading in the years to come. With David Wright now locked up for the long-term, some clarity has been made with regards to having a core player to build around. However, R.A. Dickey’s current contract extension is yet to be resolved as the Mets’ organization continues to play hard ball with their Cy Young winner in meeting his demands for a contract extension.
Andy Martino of the Daily News has reported that Dickey is currently asking for a two-year extension worth approximately $26 million. Dickey’s 2013 option has been picked up by the Mets — which will pay him $5 million — so an extension signed from this point on will most likely kick in the 2014 season. If Martino’s report of Dickey’s contract demands holds true, one may be baffled to hear the Mets are not giving into Dickey’s $13 million per season contract demands. Despite his age — 38 — Dickey is coming off a 20-win season in which he won the 2012 Cy Young Award. However, Martino goes on to explain the Mets are offering a two-year extension worth $20 million.
Much has been said about the Mets’ organization being reluctant to meet their Cy Young’s modest contract demands. Regardless of the worries the organization may have about his age and effectiveness with the knuckleball, the facts are hard to deny: Dickey has been the Mets most productive and efficient pitcher since May 2010, when he made his debut as a Met against the Washington Nationals. Dickey has been able to stay healthy and give the Mets quality starts, time and time again. During Wright’s press conference, general manager Sandy Alderson spoke about Wright’s exceptional character and how that factor in itself holds value. While this is true, the Mets can’t lose sight of Dickey’s character and professionalism. Dickey’s presence is greatly felt and appreciated in the Mets’ clubhouse. “He’s a guy that cares,” said Collins while in Nashville at the Winter Meetings. “He cares about the team, his job, his role and what he can do to help the team.” For a guy who is a leader both on and off the field, the Mets’ brass seems to be treating their star pitcher a bit unfairly, to say the least.
Even if the Mets were to give Dickey the reportedly $26 million he desires and then ship him to a contender for a package of players, given Dickey’s performance over the last three seasons, he will still be a bargain from a salary perspective, when compared to other top pitchers in both the free agent and trade market.
A case can be made that Dickey has been just as good as the best available free-agent of the 2012 class. While the Dodgers overpaid for Zack Greinke to fill-in their rotation’s No. 2 spot —$127 million for six years — it can be debated that the Kansas City Royals gave up too much for James Shields and Wade Davis — at the expense of stud prospect Wil Myers — along with three other highly regarded prospects.
AVERAGES FROM THE LAST THREE SEASONS
|WIN – LOSS RECORD||ERA||INNINGS PITCHED||STRIKEOUTS||WHIP|
||41 – 25||3.82||201.1 IP||194||1.213|
|JAMES SHIELDS||44 – 37||3.84||226.1||211||1.224|
|R.A. DICKEY||39 – 28||2.95||205||156||1.150|
What does this chart above reveal? It validates Dickey as a true ace, and right now the price to acquire a top-of-the-line arm is extremely high, whether that be via trade or free-agent market. It is for this reason Alderson is playing his cards right with respect to having his asking price extremely high. Dickey’s value is unique, given his age and production. But teams scared by his age and his repertoire surrounding the knuckleball are in a sense disregarding his production aside from his Cy Young season. Pitching involves changing speeds and hitting your spots, and isn’t always about who throws the hardiest. While it may seem weird to see a knuckleballer have as good control with this unpredictable pitch, Dickey has been reliable enough to average over 200 innings while holding a relatively low WHIP compared to other top pitchers, let alone other knuckleballers. The numbers clearly justify his price tag in the trade market. While I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets dealt him to fill multiple needs, it wouldn’t be the worse case scenario if the Mets elected to re-sign their ace to an extension. After all, it would be — and is — valuable to have his veteran presence around to mentor the young arms of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler in the years to come.