The Million Dollar Question

Noted Mets fan Jon Stewart … you know him as host of The Daily Show … had R.A. Dickey on his show last week to discuss his book, his mountain climbing, and his baseball future. He pulled no punches right off the bat with his first question:

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"How will the New York Mets screw this up?"

The Mets, ever eager to oblige, seem to be providing us with the blueprint:

The 38-year-old knuckleballer also insisted during Tuesday's holiday party at Citi Field for schoolchildren affected by Hurricane Sandy that he is asking for a far-below-market-value extension on top of the club's 2013 obligation, so he is disheartened by the slow pace of negotiations.

"It's hard," Dickey said. "When people say it's business, it's not personal, well, that just means it's not personal for them. I'm hoping it ends up in a good place, but also in the back of your mind you think it may not. That's sad." (…)

The Mets have three options: trade Dickey, sign him to an extension, or let him enter 2013 in the final year of his current contract. Both sides have said Dickey playing out next season without an extension is the least attractive option, but an option nonetheless. Dickey laid down the gauntlet on that option Tuesday, saying he likely would depart as a free agent if the Mets chose to have him pitch next season without an extension.

"If that's the decision they feel like is best for the club, and that's the decision that they make, I feel like it would be unfortunate, because it probably is going to mean I'm not going to be back (in 2014)," Dickey said.

And he said this as an elf at a team holiday party. Merry Christmas.

I hate repeating myself. It's tiresome for me as well as for you. But I've had this horrible feeling that the "least attractive option" was going to be the road taken, and I've had this feeling since before the least attractive option ever presented itself as an option. Leading up to the winter meetings you never imagined that the Mets would just let Dickey waltz into his walk year. But I know this team, and I know stupid decisions. And if ever there was a relationship that neither party wants to be the first one to walk away from, it's the one between this team and stupid decisions.

The problem is that where the Mets once had leverage, they don't have it anymore … and that goes for a new contract, or in a trade. The Mets seemed to have the leverage in the very beginning when there were multiple teams in the market for Dickey. But now with those teams starting to go elsewhere for pitching, and combine that with the leaks that negotiations aren't going smoothly, the Mets don't have as much leverage as they once did. So either the Mets will trade Dickey at a diminished return, overpay him, or let him walk.

Now overpaying him would be tough, since Dickey is willing to take a little less but also because his actual worth would make it hard to overpay him. According to the guys at Clubhouse Confidential:

That's right, $16.5 million a year. While very few people would argue that Dickey should come close to a per year average salary as David Wright, there's no reason to move glacially when Dickey is making it as easy and as cordial as possible. Think about it this way: The A.L. Cy Young award winner got a key to the city on the same day that the N.L. Cy Young award winner expressed displeasure with his contract negotiations while playing an elf. And now the Mets are "not happy" that Dickey used his appearance as an elf at the holiday party to air his grievances. Yeah! How dare he??!?!!? Because as we all know the proper place to air your grievances is New York Magazine.

So how will the Mets screw this up? I can't wait to find out.

Metstradamus

About Metstradamus

I've been a Mets fan since 1976. The 1988 NLCS still bothers me infinitely more than it should. Keep reaching for the stars, and then get checked for a torn ligament.

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