R.A. Dickey’s Asking Price Fair, But Knuckleballer in Tough Situation Unless Mets Deal Him Away


R.A. DickeyR.A. Dickey is quickly learning that nice guys often do finish last.

Dickey, widely regarded as one of baseball’s all-around good civilians, is fresh off a 20-win, Cy Young award-winning campaign. He is seeking a new deal with the Mets. But while talks are reportedly ongoing, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Dickey doesn’t have much leverage, thus leaving the veteran right-hander at a crossroads.

It’s unfortunate, really. While a 38-year-old knuckleballer typically doesn’t command the interest that a normal top-of-the-rotation starter would, there’s no doubt that Dickey was as good as any pitcher in baseball in 2012. He finished first in the National League in innings pitched (233 2/3) and strikeouts (230), second in wins (20) and ERA (2.73) and third in WHIP (1.05). Also keep in mind that this came on a team that finished 74-88 and 24 games out of first place in the NL East.

Last year marked the second straight season that Dickey reached the 200-inning mark — a feat that carries immense value for teams looking to shore up their rotation. The righty went 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) in 2010, and he went 8-13 with a 3.28 ERA in 33 games (32 starts) in 2011. This seems to indicate that while expecting a repeat of his 2012 Cy Young campaign might be wishful thinking, Dickey has been a solid big league starter for the past three seasons. Long gone are the days of him lingering in mediocrity.

Yet, as the offseason wanes on, Dickey can’t get the deal he’s looking for in New York. And all things considered, it’s very understandable, albeit very unfortunate.

The Mets just threw nearly $140 million at David Wright, effectively cementing him as the team’s cornerstone going forward. Many holes remain on the club’s roster, though, so extending a 38-year-old starter for two additional seasons at $26-28 million doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, no matter how productive, marketable or pleasant the guy may be.

Keeping Dickey around for just one more season at his $5 million 2013 price tag doesn’t much make much sense, either. While he could rattle off another superb season, or least be the respectable starter he’s been since 2010, Dickey isn’t going to make or break the Mets’ season. New York’s championship window isn’t even open a crack at this point, so the team would be wise to seek some sort of value in return.

In order for that to happen, though, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is going to have to come down with his demands, which isn’t an easy thing to convince a GM — especially when it comes to quality pitching. Just as the Mets are seemingly reluctant to pay the financial price tag for Dickey, teams seem reluctant to pay the price in prospects it would take to pry the righty away from Queens. So unless Alderson’s asking price decreases, and the Mets accept a package more in line with Dickey’s age/potential rather than asking for the moon, the Nashville native will be playing out the string in 2013.

Still don’t feel bad for Dickey? Well, consider this: While he sits around a victim of the situation, Joe Blanton just inked a two-year, $15 million contract, and Jeremy Guthrie received a three-year, $25 million deal. Neither of those guys is bringing home any hardware any time soon, so Dickey’s cost suddenly seems reasonable.

In fact, Dickey’s asking price has been fair all along. It’s the situation that’s been cruel to him. But then again, that’s baseball.

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