Olney: Wilpons need to sign R.A. Dickey or sell the team

In his column for ESPN, Buster Olney writes, “Here’s the bottom line: If the Mets don’t figure out a way to re-sign the 38-year-old Dickey, the Wilpon family ought to sell the team. Seriously.”

In regards to possibly trading Dickey, Olney says, “It’s very doubtful that another club is going to offer a star prospect for a knuckleball pitcher not far away from his 40th birthday. You might get a B-plus prospect, but the Mets aren’t going to get Jurickson Profar for Dickey.”

Olney believes the Mets have the financial flexibility to feel comfortable offering a multi-year deal to Dickey, but if they don’t “they should just unload the team to somebody who will operate it like the big-market club that it is.”

Michael Baron, Contributor

Those are some strong words from Olney, and there are probably a lot of fans who might agree. Personally, I think that considering this is a New York team, retaining star players shouldn’t be an issue or a burden, and it’s important for a New York team to be able to operate using a big market strategy. I also don’t care who owns the team as long as the Mets are good and the ownership group wants their product to be good. But I also believe in sensible and practical deals and also recognizing both sides of any equation. In the case of Dickey, the scenario has two polar opposite but very valid arguments. Neither solution provides an easy or necessarily popular answer, either.

It’s like I said yesterday – the issue is whether or not Dickey makes the team better in the short-term and offers the organization the opportunity to be better and healthier for the long-term. That’s the question whether the Wilpons or someone else owns the team. Now, it would be foolish to deal Dickey for mediocre prospects, or a player who doesn’t at least project to offer equal or greater replacement value to Dickey. In addition, the connection Dickey has with the fans is just as valuable – if not more – than anything they might be able to acquire for him in a trade. The reason for that is regardless of who they get in a trade, the Mets could further alienate an already cynical fan base by dealing someone who has become a great Met and a beloved icon for them, and those are the people the Mets need to buy tickets next year. I have to believe the team recognizes this and saw the jubilation among the fans when Dickey won the Cy Young the other night.

But again, that connection should not mask the glaring issues on the big league roster and the lack of depth at the top of the organization. And, the free agent market stinks and is only going to get worse in future years – changing ownership doesn’t solve that problem. I’m not saying the Mets ‘need’ to trade Dickey, and I think Dickey has enough left in the tank to contribute towards a winning product at Citi Field in time. If Sandy Alderson can find a way to improve the roster without sacrificing either Dickey or Jon Niese, there wouldn’t be a single Met fan who would disagree with that strategy. Then again, if the Mets can score some serious talent in return for one of those guys and make the team immediately better all while building towards sustainable success, how can anyone argue with that, either?