1) R.A. Dickey
The final man up the list is someone who made Mets games fun to watch during some of their darkest years in R.A. Dickey.
Dickey was coming off a year in which he pitched out of the bullpen for the Minnesota Twins after signing a minor league deal. He had never been that great of a pitcher in the seven seasons he pitched in, but this was his best one out of the seven. At the time it just seemed like another typical “Mets” signing at the time, a cheap guy during dark times.
On December 21st, 2009, Dickey signed a minor league deal with the Mets. Although the next two years of Dickey’s contract were not agreed on in December, we will count it because the original deal was made in December, resulting in the two years after. The second and third seasons were worth a total of $7M, with the second season worth $2.75M and the third year at $4.25M.
Dickey’s original minor league deal work out fantastic for the Mets. He did start out in the minor leagues to start the season, but once called up to the big leagues he made the most of it. In 26 games started, Dickey went 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.187 WHIP in 174.1 innings.
The following two seasons he proved that the first year was no fluke. In his second season, he did have a poor record of 8-13, but he did have a solid 3.28 ERA and a 1.227 WHIP in a career-high 32 games started with 208.2 innings.
Dickey’s third and final season in Flushing was a historic one. Dickey set career highs in multiple categories and led the league in multiple categories as well. He went 20-6 on the year with a 2.73 ERA, a 1.053 WHIP, 230 strikeouts, 5 complete games, 3 shutouts, all in 233.2 innings while being selected to his first All-Star game and winning the Cy Young Award. His three seasons resulted in a 12.9 WAR.
It is safe to say the Mets never expected to get this kind of production from Dickey who originally signed a minor league deal. The Mets ended up getting 39 wins, an ERA under 3.00, and their first Cy Young award since 1985 all for $7M and his minor league salary/league minimum salary for the first season. There is no doubt Dickey’s deal was the best free agent signing the Mets made in December.
A couple of guys that just missed the list include Cliff Floyd, Pedro Martinez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Bobby Bonilla (his first for the Mets don’t worry).
The Mets have clearly had some great free agent signings in the month of December between future Hall of Famers, multiple different award winners, and just pure entertaining players.
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Who do you think are the Mets top 5 All-Time December free agent signings?