Matthew Cerrone, Lead WriterLast week, I was told by other team’s insiders that, to get the type of young hitter Sandy Alderson is looking for, he will need to trade Jon Niese not R.A. Dickey.
This week, Alderson told reporters that he did not have many conversations with teams in Nashville about Niese. This may or may not be true, but it doesn’t mean he didn’t talk to teams about Niese last week or the week before.
I say this because the more I read between the lines, and listen to people talk, I think Alderson may prefer to keep Dickey with a reasonable two-year contract extension. They know Dickey desperately wants a new contract, he wants to stay in New York, and he doesn’t want to take the risk of pitching on a one-year deal. However, before making that move, Alderson’s surrogates (J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta and John Ricco) met with teams this week to better understand what Dickey can deliver in trade. I think they’ve know what Niese is worth and who is interested, and now (after a few days of meetings) they clearly know Dickey’s value and suitors as well.
The best way to motivate Dickey to lower his demands might be to keep saying in media that it’s possible he could pitch with no new contract at all, or get traded, neither of which he wants. I’m sure other teams and sources are picking up on all of this, leading to so many back-and-forth, conflicting reports about who wants what, who is available and who might get traded.
For instance, I’ve heard the Dodgers, Brewers and Rangers like Dickey, but aren’t that interested in Niese. The Rockies and Nationals are said to like Niese, but aren’t very interested in Dickey. The Blue Jays and Royals are interested in both. And, while at least two teams have already made serious offers for one of the two, one team is waiting on other factors and the other asked the Mets to part with a top prospect of their own. In other words, it’s crazy out there…
Earlier this week, I speculated that perhaps Alderson’s goal is to lock up Dickey and move Niese for a hitter, after which the Mets could sign a free-agent to finally have a complete outfield, and – though they’d have an open spot in the rotation – Alderson would still have a Cy Young Award winner to anchor his staff.
This all goes to hell if Dickey continues to demand $40 million the next three years, because I don’t think Alderson will do that – and so, at that point, if a team is willing to overpay for him, Dickey could get traded for the bat not Niese – I think that’s a lot of what this week was all about. However, this is all gets thrown off track again if the Rangers sign Zack Greinke, who is likely to choose a new team within 48 hours. And this all gets held up by Tampa Bay, because they can offer James Shields to any team interested in Niese. And so, there is a very good chance both Dickey and Niese stay put, simply because of the way the market shifts, despite early interest from other teams.
Basically, it’s complicated and not clear cut. It all depends on moving parts, many of which the Mets do not control. I think this is why Jeff Wilpon, Alderson and Terry Collins keep identifying the obvious options (sign, trade or punt) in public interviews, all while sounding very indecisive about which the they want to go. Because, I don’t think they know. I think Alderson has a simple goal, which is to leverage his best assets for a young bat, but the best way to do that has yet to be determined… and nothing ever goes according to plan.