Where will Mets ace R.A. Dickey wind up?
David LennonDavid Lennon
David Lennon has been a staff writer for Newsday since
'Wherever I Wind Up" is the catchy name of R.A. Dickey's bestselling autobiography, but it's also the question now hanging over these winter meetings, for both the Cy Young Award winner and the Mets.
Dickey repeatedly has said he wants it to be Flushing, and for a guy who enjoys hanging with David Letterman as much as David Wright, I'd say he means it. In addition to his plodding negotiations with the Mets, there are conversations under way about turning his book into a movie, but this time it would be a Hollywood production -- a la "Moneyball." And if you're counting, that would be Dickey's second flick -- after the documentary "Knuckleball!" -- so he's a hot commodity right now.
But he's not a free agent.
At age 38, he's looking for the biggest payday of his career, of course, and with the Cy Young trophy in his back pocket, his value will never be higher. Seeing Andy Pettitte, who will turn 41 this season, sign a one-year deal worth $12 million has to stick in the head of Dickey's Nashville-based representative, Bo McKinnis, and that's only as a jumping-off point.
The Mets seem comfortable with giving Dickey a two-year extension to be tacked on to his current $5-million pact for 2013, with an option or two beyond that, which would give him the flexibility to pitch into his 40s.
The fact that it hasn't happened yet suggests the difference in money is significant, and after handing $138 million to Wright last week, the Mets aren't looking to break the bank.
During his New York visit Tuesday, Dickey flat-out said the two sides already have exchanged offers for a while now, and expressed surprise that he hadn't been locked up.
If this stalemate persists, he could find himself traded as early as this week, with Sandy Alderson ready to open the bidding shortly after his arrival at the Opryland hotel Sunday night. The Mets aren't resigned to moving him, but as the days pass without a deal, that becomes a more likely possibility.
"I don't think we've gotten to the point where we have two positions that can't be bridged," Alderson said. "We may get to that point, but I don't think there's been enough 'to and fro' to this point to know that. We've had good dialogue and expect to have more of it over the next four days or so."
Dickey shrugged off the uncertainty during a visit to the hotel Sunday to speak with Mets trainer Ray Ramirez about his recovery from abdominal surgery. He also said that if the Mets feel the need to trade him, he understands it.
If that does happen, Dickey could wind up as the biggest loser. Not that heading to Toronto, Texas or even Kansas City wouldn't improve his chances of getting to the playoffs; it would. But his new club is likely to have him play out 2013 under his current $5-million option, and if Dickey struggles to duplicate his 2012 success, that could mean a lot of money left on the table. A lot.
With the adversity Dickey has overcome in his remarkable career, that probably doesn't enter into his thinking when he's this close to the jackpot.
Wright could have forced the Mets to trade him by turning down their offer, perhaps playing for a better team in 2013, then trying his luck in the open market. Content in Queens, though, he took the money.
It's a better story for all parties involved if Dickey stays. The Mets would get to keep their Cy Young winner -- he's still the ace of the staff -- and Dickey would get to be Dickey in the media capital of the world.
"He does have a certain notoriety," Alderson said. "I don't think that we would rely on his ability to sell tickets as a motivator, but this is the entertainment business."
Exactly. Dickey likes the bright lights, but he should be wary of being blinded by the money.