NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For weeks, the Mets have made it clear to others that they'll listen to trade offers for R.A. Dickey. Though they've stopped short of actively shopping their star pitcher, they've been diligent in their efforts to get a feel for the market for their reigning Cy Young Award winner.
"They are wisely trying to create a chase," a rival executive said earlier this offseason, believing that the Mets could take advantage of an "overinflated" market for starting pitchers.
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It appears now that the chase is starting to shape.
With the winter meetings in full swing, Dickey has drawn significant interest from multiple teams looking to bolster their starting rotation.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Monday afternoon that he's had preliminary talks with several clubs regarding Dickey. Even more teams emerged later in the day to discuss the knuckleballer and other potential trades, according to a source, who said the meetings have gone well.
The Red Sox, who an industry source said already had been in talks with the Mets leading up to the meetings, were among the suitors to pay a visit Monday.
"We're not actively out promoting interest or buying billboards at this stage," Alderson said. "Teams that are interested will approach us."
Alderson insisted that signing Dickey to a contract extension remains a possibility. However, while Alderson's door has been open to rival clubs, he has yet to speak this week with Dickey's agent Bo McKinnis. Though McKinnis lives in Nashville, Alderson said no talks have been scheduled with the agent.
Meanwhile, within the organization, Dickey's chances of staying and going are now considered virtually equal. "It's a huge decision," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "There's a lot of things to be considered."
The Blue Jays and Rangers have been considered possible trade partners for the Mets as have the Royals, though a source said they were not among the wave of teams to reach out Monday. More may emerge as the winter meetings continue until Thursday. "I don't think we'll have real clarity for a couple of days," Alderson said of Dickey's trade value.
Upgrades in the outfield and at catcher remain the Mets' most glaring needs. But Alderson said he'd be willing to trade Dickey for help at other positions so long as the Mets receive a "difference maker."
"It doesn't have to be a catcher, it doesn't have to be an outfielder, it doesn't have to be anything," Alderson said. "But it has to be a difference maker because R.A.'s a difference maker."
Alderson said the Mets also are seeking players considered to be major-league ready -- or at least close to contributing in the majors soon. Said Alderson: "This is not about making a trade for four players from the Appalachian League."
Even with interest swirling, the Mets likely would benefit by waiting for free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke to sign before deciding on Dickey's fate. Greinke is considered the jewel of the free-agent pitching market. But for teams that miss out on signing him, Dickey would emerge as a viable alternative if he's still available.
"Anytime you're looking at the market, you're looking at options," Alderson said. "The more options there are, the more supply, the lower the demand, typically."