The long dance between the Mets and reigning Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey finally may be winding down.
Sources said the Mets entertained a flurry of trade proposals from multiple teams Friday, with the Blue Jays reportedly emerging as the frontrunner to acquire the 38-year-old knuckleballer. No agreement was reached Friday, though a trade appeared close.
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Sources did not rule out the Angels and Orioles as trade partners for the Mets. But with an excess of catchers and a farm system stocked with potential trade chips in the outfield, the Blue Jays appeared to be the most logical fit.
Despite the flood of speculation, sources said the Mets have yet to shut the door on a contract extension with Dickey. Nevertheless, they shifted their focus toward potential trades in recent days, reviving the interest that Dickey had drawn at the winter meetings.
"A number of teams have called,'' said a person with knowledge of the recent trade talks.
But the source said many have backed off, a group that includes the Rangers.
The Mets have held on to Dickey in hopes of plugging multiple holes on the roster with players considered major league-ready -- or at least close. The Blue Jays have potential answers. Published reports Friday linked the Mets to outfielder Anthony Gose and catchers Travis d'Arnaud and J.P Arencibia.
Gose, 22, hit .223 in 56 games after the Blue Jays called him up to make his big-league debut this past season. The highly regarded prospect played 22 games in centerfield and also saw action at the corner outfield spots.
D'Arnaud, 23, is considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball. He hit .333 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 67 games for Triple-A Las Vegas before a leg injury cut his season short.
Arencibia, 26, is a career .222 hitter in parts of three seasons in the big leagues as a catcher. He has 43 home runs during that span.
Rival executives believe the Mets could extract even more value for Dickey if he's locked up to a contract extension and traded later. He has requested a two-year, $26-million extension to take effect after the 2013 season. The Mets' latest offer is two years for $20 million.
Although the sides are $6 million apart on a new deal, they have found common ground on years and structure.
One AL executive said Dickey's low price tag of $5 million for 2013 has allowed the Mets to seek better value, even without an extension.
"To some degree, his price point for this year probably balances that out a little bit,'' the executive said. "He's really good value for $5 million.''
After the winter meetings, people within the organization described a growing sense that Dickey would stay, but that perception has shifted. Earlier in the week, he made public his displeasure over the slow talks. Meanwhile, trade discussions heated up again.
Only three reigning Cy Young Award winners have been traded the following season. If he is dealt, Dickey would join David Cone, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. But the process has played out slowly, with the Mets determined to gauge Dickey's true value before making a move. The task, however, has not been clear-cut.
With David Lennon