Does it make me feel fuzzy inside to hear that R.A. Dickey seems frustrated with his contract negotiations? No, of course not. But it doesn’t mean the Mets are playing it wrong.
I can’t purport to know the team’s strategy, but if I had to guess, they’re tarrying to see if any team ponies up some impressive package of young position players for Dickey.
If the best the Mets can get for Dickey is Mike Olt in a straight-up swap, they’re better off giving Dickey the extension he’s seeking and hoping they’ll get more surplus value from their knuckleballing ace in the next three seasons than they would from Olt in the next seven. If the Rangers panic and add additional promising young players to the deal, the Mets are probably better off trading Dickey than extending his contract.
If a Dickey trade could net the Mets two regular position players under team control for five or more seasons, it’d be worth it — especially given the Mets’ apparent lack of regular position players in the upper levels of their farm system. But obviously most players with five or more seasons of team control remaining come with quite a bit of uncertainty, way more so even than 38-year-olds trafficking in the much-reviled knuckleball.
In any case, there really shouldn’t be as much urgency here as the Internet seems to be demanding. It’s Dec. 11, after all. Assuming Dickey’s terms don’t change or the team does not irritate him into testing free agency after 2013, there’s no real harm in the club biding its time to measure the trade market. If Sandy Alderson determines extending Dickey’s contract is the Mets’ most appealing option, we’ll forget all about this sluggishness in the negotiations long before Dickey takes the mound on Opening Day. Again, our offseason boredom does not and should not impact the way the Mets approach improving the club.