On the surface, it makes zero sense to trade away the silver lining in the dark cloud that has been the Mets' 2012 season, especially considering that R.A. Dickey has a solid chance to become the first Mets pitcher to win the NL Cy Young since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
This is a business, however, and R.A. Dickey could represent the best chance for the Mets to revamp their farm system via trade.
Here are 10 reasons why it could make sense for the Mets to sell high on this 37-year-old knuckleballer.
As the stock market has taught us, the best time to sell is when the value is at its highest.
The Mets missed their opportunity to trade Johan Santana while he had value in the middle of the season, and they should capitalize on Dickey's career year by trading him at his peak value.
Teams could be willing to overlook all the negatives involving his acquisition because he has been able to overcome them for the past three seasons.
Although he was very consistent in 2010-11, he took his level of performance up a notch this season.
Dickey has been able to minimize his poor outings this season and has been dominant for a great majority of his starts.
He has posted 14 "dominant starts," a term that indicates when a pitcher completes seven or more innings while allowing one run or fewer.
That is more than half of his starts!
Not many pitchers can have seasons like that, whether they are not durable or they are undermined by a costly home run at some point.
Dickey will not match this performance next season. Not because he is a bad pitcher but because it is unfair to expect this level of excellence over another 33-start stretch.
His value will never be higher, and if they are to trade him, now is the time.
The Mets did very few things right this season, primarily because they do not have many above-average ball players on their club.
The offense has been woeful, the defense has been sporadic and the bullpen has been deplorable.
The starting rotation has been a bright spot, though.
A starting rotation ERA of 3.24—which is the eighth best in the MLB—is certainly a positive and something the team can build on going forward.
They have recorded 685 strikeouts in 778 innings, which is a respective 7.92 K/9 innings.
Clearly, much of that is due to Dickey's performance, but they do actually possess one of the deeper rotations in the league.
With the return of Dillon Gee, Johan Santana and potentially Mike Pelfrey next season, the Mets will have a bit of a logjam in the rotation with or without Dickey.
In the event that Dickey is traded for a non-starting pitcher, the rotation would appear to be Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey with the fifth spot being fought for by a number of prospects or Chris Young—if he is re-signed.
Basically, they would not be crushed in the way they would be if David Wright left.
We have heard endless praise over the much-ballyhooed prospects on the horizon. Obviously, not all of them will become perennial Cy Young candidates, but they must be given the opportunity to succeed.
If Dickey is traded, that paves the way for a homegrown rotation that could become one of the league's elite if all the pieces fall into place.
Matt Harvey has already made his presence known in the rotation and appears to be staying for quite some time.
Additionally, Collin McHugh has also flashed his potential with his terrific outing over the Colorado Rockies. He may not have the ceiling of Harvey, but he possesses the all-important "poise" that scouts drool over.
I would love to see the 25-year-old finally get his chance to show he belongs.
Then there is Zack Wheeler, who has garnered the most attention of all the prospects. He appears to be headed to Citi Field sometime in 2013, and the organization will look for him to anchor the rotation in the future.
Then there are the more raw pitching prospects such as Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia.
At this point, Mejia is took a leap ahead of Familia in terms of command, and he should be given the opportunity as well.
These are five pitching prospects that the organization has plans of building the team around, thus making Dickey expendable.
While the first half success caused many fans to become enthusiastic and optimistic regarding the club's chances of postseason play, the second half swoon has certainly tempered expectations.
By most admissions, this team appears that they will probably suffer through one more mediocre season before they are ready to transcend into contenders.
R.A. Dickey turns 38 this October.
If they do not make the postseason next season, he will be 39 by the time they are ready to succeed.
Granted, Tom Glavine anchored the rotation in 2006 while he was 40, but that is not the way to build a team.
The Mets were undone that season by injuries to their aging starters such as Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez.
In this post-steroid era, very few pitchers are successful into their 40s, and front offices are careful not to invest too heavily into them.
It is a known fact that Dickey is extremely family oriented—more so than many players—and he genuinely makes decisions based on the best interests of his wife, Anne, and children.
If he feels the Mets are low-balling him on an offer, he has a legitimate reason to ask for more money.
This is the first time in his career he will not be playing on a year-to-year basis in terms of when he will be getting his next big paycheck.
He has earned the right to be paid in line with the best pitchers in the league based on his performance over the course of three seasons in Queens.
Also, Dickey was born and raised in Tennessee, which means he is comfortable living in a rural area. This could come into play if a Midwest team is interested in signing him.
Or perhaps he throws a curveball and decides to sign with Colorado because he prefers their school system, a la Mike Hampton.
The worst fears of Mets fans came to fruition last winter when the Mets not only failed to re-sign one of the best players in franchise history—Jose Reyes—but they also were left with receiving only a supplemental pick in the 2012 draft.
As per MLB rules, the Mets will receive the first-round pick of the team who signs their Type-A free agent as compensation, unless the team finished with a record in the bottom half of the standings.
That is why the Mets did not receive the first-round pick of the Miami Marlins.
That is very risky for a team like the Mets who are in dire need of a positive break. They will receive compensation regardless, but it is a big difference in talent between a top-30 prospect or a top-60 one.
By trading him before he reaches free agency the Mets will receive much fairer value for their star pitcher, and that will sit much better with the fan base than losing a terrific player two seasons in a row.
Fair or not, Dickey has a few strikes against him in terms of receiving a long-term contract.
First of all, there is the fact that he was born without a UCL, considered an extremely abnormal defect. Obviously, he has proven to be a workout despite it, but perhaps his arm has fewer bullets remaining than it would appear.
Also, there is the fact that he has performed way beyond his career norms.
Prior to signing with the Mets, his best season was in 2003 in which he amassed an ERA+ of 99, not even league-average.
The Mets have gotten lightning in a bottle from R.A. Dickey, but will his magic last forever?
Will he continue to perform once he receives his massive payday?
I am not going to pretend to know how much money the Wilpons are worth or how much he will allow Sandy Alderson to spend in the winter.
One thing is for certain, if they intend for the payroll to remain below $100 million, they will find it hard to field a major league–caliber team if $80 million is committed to four players.
Jason Bay, Johan Santana, David Wright and R.A. Dickey are not only the most costly players on the team, but it is not even close.
Aside from Jon Niese and Frank Francisco, most of the other players on the 25-man roster could not afford to take the team out to eat.
If the front office intends on retaining only one of Dickey and Wright, it would seem the no-brainer decision is to keep the franchise third baseman who has been wearing the blue and orange since his debut in 2004.
If it comes down to these two, the front office is sure to make the "Wright" decision.
It would be a shame if the only reason the Mets do not retain R.A. Dickey is strictly for money. The front office would find a way to spin it and make it appear money was not the issue.
In any event, the organization must realize just how vital Dickey has been to this club, and he is worth all the money he is about to make.
Personally, I would love for the team to re-sign him. I understand, however, that the team was wary of signing a dynamic player like Jose Reyes, and this could be a similar situation.
At the time, the Mets farm system is highlighted by power arms at the upper levels with very few impact bats at any level.
With the holes in the outfield at the big-league level, that does not bode well.
If the Mets could find a suitor for Dickey, they must find a big league–ready bat that can soften the blow of their listless group of current players.
If they can also get an offensive-minded catcher, that is a plus as well. In this league, though, much of a team's offense comes from the outfield, and the Mets simply do not have that type of player.
Dickey could easily bring back that type of player.