R.A. Dickey still a Met after winter meetings; now what?

R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets reacts R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets reacts after surrendering a second-inning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. (Sept. 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Mets vacated their hotel suite at the winter meetings Thursday morning after spending the last four days drumming up trade offers for R.A. Dickey.

According to sources, the Mets even approached the crosstown Yankees earlier this week about trading for the reigning Cy Young Award winner, an indication of just how wide a net the Mets have cast in their efforts to flip Dickey for an impact player.

But when Mets executives departed, they were no closer to resolving what continues to be a fluid situation. Dickey remains in limbo, caught somewhere between getting traded and signing an extension, with his fate tied partly to forces greater than himself and his team.

Rumors have swirled about a trade involving Rays righthander James Shields, and top free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke remains in the marketplace.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Greinke's situation would have no "direct impact" on the timing of any resolution on Dickey. The Mets also don't appear to be in any rush to force the issue.

The Mets already have at least three viable trade proposals from other clubs, according to a person with knowledge of the team's thinking, though they're in position to wait for suitors to sweeten the packages.

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Meanwhile, if the Mets decide against a trade, extension talks with Dickey easily could be accelerated. The sides have found common ground in terms of the contract's length and structure. Only the ultimate dollar value remains an issue, though a compromise is within reach.

Alderson said a resolution on Dickey is "moving forward on two tracks." But the possibility also remains that Dickey simply will play out the final year of his deal -- at a cost of only $5 million to the Mets -- though he'd be a free agent at season's end.

Shifts in the market could entice new teams to join the fray, or perhaps for old talks between other clubs to be rekindled. As expected, Dickey generated interest from plenty of clubs, even spurring conversations with a bargain-minded rival.

The Yankees expressed interest when approached by the Mets, sources said. The teams discussed parameters but stopped short of exchanging names. Ultimately, talks fizzled and the sides didn't find a fit.

Alderson said Dickey's situation has not affected the club's work on other fronts, though the winter meetings ended without the Mets making any other trades or signings to fill holes in the outfield and at catcher. "We've explored the trade market," Alderson said. "That doesn't look all that promising at the moment. But the free-agent market is also thin."

In the outfield, the Mets might have a few more options. Alderson has been in contact with the agent for Scott Hairston about a possible return, though no new deal appears close.

In Thursday's Rule 5 draft, the Mets selected lefthanded pitcher Kyle Lobstein from the Rays, though the 23-year-old was traded to the Tigers for cash. Otherwise, they returned home with plenty of unchecked items on their to-do list.

"We're happy with the progress we've made," Alderson said. "It's always nice to see something tangible at the meetings, but we feel like we've made solid progress on a number of different fronts."

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