The Mets have turned on their hot stove, but the flame is still flickering.
With the 2012 Winter Meetings underway, teams across the major leagues are discussing dollars with free agents, talking about potential trades and contemplating how they would like to operate heading into the 2013 season.
The Mets are no different, and in fact have one of the hottest and intriguing names said to be available: the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, R.A. Dickey.
While the Mets are publicly insisting they hope to resign Dickey to ace their staff for the short-term future, they are also adamant it is on their own financial terms.
As of Wednesday, the Mets and their ace were said to be pretty far apart on the dollar amount the 20-game winner would earn in a prospective new deal. The Mets believe $25 million should sufficiently cover the terms of the deal, while Dickey is reportedly seeking somewhere closer to $40 million.
Due to the shaky ground their extension talks currently stand on, the team has clearly made it known they are open to trading Dickey for the right package of players in return.
The optimistic fans are excited about the idea of the Royals being a potential trade partner for the Mets, as Kansas City possesses one of the most highly regarded prospects in the game: Wil Myers. At the moment, such a return seems unlikely, as Myers comes with significant expectations and is considered one of MLB’s best prospects among baseball circles.
Other teams, such as the Red Sox, Dodgers and Blue Jays, have shown interest in Dickey — however despite the team’s meeting at the Winter Meetings, a deal does not appear to be on the imminent horizon.
However, the Mets also hold another potential trading chip that is coveted by other teams — Jon Niese. Niese had a career season last year, finally sealing himself as a member of the Mets rotation and living up to the contract extension he signed prior to the 2012 season.
Many teams, including the Royals, are said to have a ton of interest in the Mets left-hander, and executives and pundits across the league have said that the Mets could net a far greater return for Niese rather than Dickey.
While some fans are comfortable trading Dickey — though no one will tell you that is their first choice, merely an acceptance of the situation the Mets are currently in — the idea of trading Niese would be much harder to swallow.
The fact of the matter is Niese is a left-handed workhorse, who is signed to a team-friendly contract and seems like a possible lock to fit into the middle of their rotation for years to come.
To give up a talent such as this, the team would not only need to receive a package of prospects that warrants such a move, but the Mets would be forced to scramble and find a way to plug into the rotation.
In an ideal world, the Mets would be able to keep both Niese and Dickey for 2013 and beyond, however in order for the Mets to succeed and implement their goal of competing in 2014, a deal now seems like the most prudent option.
Whether Niese, Dickey or someone else is traded in the coming days is anyone’s guess, but that’s half the fun of baseball’s off-season.