10:00 am Nov. 21, 2012
New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon made some news on Tuesday, discussing negotiations with R.A. Dickey and David Wright even as he insisted the Mets weren't publicly discussing negotiations with R.A. Dickey and David Wright.
In listing the team's priorities in dealing with Wright and Dickey, Wilpon inserted an alternative into the discussion that hadn't been mentioned by general manager Sandy Alderson.
While maintaining that signing them both to long-term deals was the "first preference," Wilpon told ESPN's Adam Rubin this:
"That has been the first preference. The second preference is probably to keep them and have them play out the season. The third preference would be to trade them. They're both important to the franchise and fan favorites. So we'd like to keep it that way."
So here's the thing. Trading Dickey and/or Wright would be a public relations disaster for the Mets this winter, but that would be a masterstroke compared to letting them stick around and then losing them for nothing next winter.
In that scenario, the Mets would likely lose them for nothing but draft pick compensation, as they did with Jose Reyes after the 2011 season. Their failure to turn Reyes into a package of players who could help the team's young talent base, when the team lacked even the capacity to retain Reyes long-term, is one of the primary failures of the team's front office in recent years.
Now consider the idea that the Mets are struggling to sign Dickey and Wright this winter, when both can only negotiate with the Mets, and the team has the opportunity to rework a pair of 2013 options that underpay Wright and especially Dickey, relative to what players of their talent would earn. That leverage would disappear next winter, just as all of Major League Baseball will have roughly $50 million more in their coffers to spend, thanks to a national television deal taking effect in 2014.
As it stands now, Wright and Dickey are easily going to be the best player and pitcher on the free agent market (unless the Yankees let Robinson Cano test the market as well). The competition will likely get expensive, and fast.
Never mind that Alderson, as recently as last Friday, discussed a need for clarity over the next two weeks. That would allow the team to move forward with a plan, one way or the other. But historically, that has not been the Wilpon way.
Instead, keeping Dickey and Wright around for 2013 to sell some tickets for an ownership group still desperately in need of short-term capital would, again, be precisely what the Mets did with Reyes in 2011.
In terms of the Mets' future, that would be the very worst scenario of all.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
A dominant Carmelo Anthony made quick work of the New Orleans Hornets, 102-80.
The Nets played Mike D'Antoni's Lakers tough, but fell in Los Angeles, 95-90.
Hiroki Kuroda is coming back.
An epic battle ended with top-ranked Indiana outlasting Georgetown in overtime, 82-72, at the Barclays Center.
Rutgers officially joined the Big Ten on Tuesday.
Jack Taylor of Grinnell scored 138 points in a game Tuesday.
The Red Bulls' plans include Americans, which is a nice change.