R.A. Dickey: A Rare Gaffe

By Rich Sparago

R.A. Dickey attended the Mets’ holiday party at Citi Field on Tuesday. As one would expect, reporters asked the Cy Young Award winner for his thoughts on his future with the Mets. Dickey, according to the New York Post, expressed frustration at the pace of his negotiations with the club on a contract extension. “I feel we are asking for even less than what is fair”, the twenty-game-winner said. “There is a surprise sometimes when things don’t get done quickly and you think you are already extending the olive branch,” Dickey said.

Oct. 2, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) throws against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

According to Joel Sherman and Mike Puma of the Post, the Mets are not happy with Dickey’s comments, nor his taking advantage of the holiday party forum to express them. Dickey’s comments, in my opinion, represent a rare error in the pitcher’s judgment. Until yesterday, public sentiment seemed to be that the Mets should not trade Dickey, that they should sweeten their offer to their ace, and lock him up for two more years. However, that sentiment, according to talk radio and various fan forums, began to swing somewhat today. Some are asking how Dickey could turn a children’s party into a platform to express his contract-negotiation frustration, while many in the New York area have had their lives turned upside down by recent storms. More importantly, people are asking how a 38-year-old pitcher could be frustrated by an offer of 20 million additional dollars over the two-year period of 2014-2015.

To be fair, Dickey was responding to reporters’ questions on the topic of his contract. However, R.A. is an intelligent man, and should have known that his comments would go public, and potentially irritate the club and a portion of the fan base. Dickey’s enormous popularity with both the fans and ownership took a hit on Tuesday.

The bigger question, that is still unresolved, is what the Mets should do with R.A. Dickey. I don’t believe his comments yesterday will have an impact on his future with (or without) the Mets. However, I do believe that Sandy Alderson has every intention of trading Dickey. If Alderson wanted to sign Dickey, I think that the extension would already be in place. Alderson has been very public about his conversations with other clubs about Dickey, and has moved so slowly down the “parallel track” of the contract extension, that it’s hard to come to any other conclusion. Trading Dickey, in my opinion, is the right thing to do. R.A. can return at least one top prospect in a deal, and you have to be wary about owing a 40-year-old pitcher $10 million in 2015. Whether or not he throws a knuckleball, Dickey will still be 40, and the Mets are trying to get away from albatross-like contracts. It’s certainly possible that $10 million may seem like a bargain in 2015 if Dickey is healthy and effective, however there’s a real possibility that this may not be the case. Considering this possible scenario, and the potential haul of one or two position-player prospects, I think a trade is likely and wise.

It would, however, be unfortunate if Dickey’s last official Mets moment was Tuesday’s holiday party. The man is a class act, a very good pitcher, and excellent ambassador of a franchise.