GM trying to sign Dickey, won't rule out trade
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday that he expected R.A. Dickey to become the Mets' first Cy Young Award winner in more than a quarter century.
He also said it was conceivable Dickey could be an ex-Met soon afterward.
"It would be a little unusual to trade a Cy Young winner," Alderson said, "but I can remember a time (as GM of the Oakland A's in 1990) when we traded for the leading hitter in the National League at the time, so it happens."
However, Alderson emphasized the organization's focus was to try to sign Dickey and David Wright, its two marquee players, to long-term deals. Both had their options for 2013 picked up last month.
Alderson said he met with Wright at his home in Virginia "a couple of weeks ago" and had intended to visit Dickey in Nashville, Tenn., "but it turned out not to be necessary."
Of Dickey, a 37-year-old knuckleballer who went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 2012, Alderson said, "We'd love to retain him. We're trying to."
He also said that "conversations are ongoing" with Wright, the team's best all-around player who hit .306 with 21 home runs and 93 RBIs this past season.
And Alderson was quick to point out that unlike last year's non-negotiation with Jose Reyes, who wound up signing with the Miami Marlins without ever receiving an offer from the Mets, "there's much more engagement, let's put it that way," with Wright and his representatives.
When the Mets picked up both options -- Wright's called for $16 million, Dickey's for $5 million -- Alderson had said he wanted a quick resolution to both situations. That has not happened.
"Maybe it was a little bit unrealistic on my part to think that we get something done," he said. "But I think it was important for me to emphasize that we were going to get going early, in order to avoid any speculation about a Jose Reyes-type approach to this. So in that sense it was probably a good idea to emphasize speed but unrealistic to expect that this was all going to be concluded quickly."
Along with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, Dickey is a finalist for the NL Cy Young, the winner of which will be announced Wednesday. Dickey could become the Mets' first Cy Young winner since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
"From my standpoint, I already assume he's going to win," Alderson said.
However, that would not stop the GM from considering trading him or one of the Mets' other starting pitchers -- one of the team's few areas of strength -- to shore up other areas, notably the outfield.
Or, as Alderson cracked, "What outfield?"
At the moment, the Mets are counting on Lucas Duda, recovering from surgery on a fractured wrist suffered while moving furniture, as their left fielder for next year, and are considering Kirk Nieuwenhuis, a rookie last year, as their center fielder. They are also trying to come to terms with free agent Scott Hairston, who hit 20 home runs for them last season, although Alderson acknowledged, "We would love to have him back, but I suspect there will be interest in him elsewhere, so we'll just have to see."
Alderson said unloading Jason Bay and the remainder of his four-year, $66 million contract has given the Mets "some flexibility" in their budget this offseason, but it sounded as though trading a starting pitcher was a likelier way for the club to add a major league-ready outfielder for 2013.
"I would hate to give up, for different reasons, an R.A. Dickey or a Jonathon Niese or a Dillon Gee, but it is our strength and it's something we would have to entertain," he said. "I don't want you to leave here thinking we're going to trade a starting pitcher and that's an absolute. But it's logical for us to consider that."
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