Why the New York Mets Simply Can't Trade R.A. Dickey

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Why the New York Mets Simply Can't Trade R.A. Dickey
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The Mets' newly crowned NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey could very well be traded this offseason if the right deal is presented. The Mets recently picked up his $5 million option for 2013, but with his trade value as high as it will ever be, plus the fact that his 2013 salary is not particularly high, the Mets could definitely find other teams that would be interested in Dickey.

There are some factors regarding Dickey getting traded that could potentially benefit the Mets. For one, Dickey is 38 years old. Despite the two solid seasons he had in 2010 and 2011, along with his spectacular 2012 season, no one knows for sure whether he can keep pitching the way he has for a long time.

Knuckleball pitchers tend to pitch more through later years in life than most conventional pitchers, but with the way Dickey's unique career has gone, anything could possibly happen in the future.

Secondly, the Mets happen to have a lot of good starting pitching, with Dickey, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Johan Santana and Dillon Gee all currently projected to be in the Mets' 2013 Opening Day rotation. There is also top prospect Zack Wheeler, who could be promoted as early as May or June.

If and when Wheeler is promoted though, the Mets would have to make a tough decision as to who Wheeler would replace. Logically, Gee would be the odd man out unless Santana for example gets hurt again and misses significant time. On the other hand, if Dickey gets traded, the Mets could use a temporary fifth starter for the first few months until Wheeler is ready.

Thirdly, the Mets desperately need a solid right-handed hitting outfielder in their lineup for two reasons. One reason is that the Mets lack significant power beyond David Wright and Ike Davis. A right-handed hitting slugger in the fifth spot of the lineup would immediately improve the Mets' offense. The other reason is that the Mets already have quite a few left-handed hitters in their lineup and could use another right-handed slugger against left-handed pitching in particular. If Scott Hairston does not return, the need for a right-handed hitting slugger would increase significantly.

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Could R.A. Dickey already have thrown his last pitch as a Met?

 

Despite all this though, it would be very tough to see the Mets trade Dickey away, even if it would improve the team in the long run. The Mets were the team that ultimately gave Dickey an opportunity to play for them in 2010. After signing a minor league contract that year, he was the first player cut before Opening Day. However, in the middle of May that year, the Mets needed a starting pitcher, so they called up Dickey.

Dickey responded with an 11-9 record, a 2.84 ERA, two complete games and one shutout in 26 starts. It was something that no one had expected, being that Dickey was initially just going to be a temporary spot starter. But his unique pitching style, plus his great control helped him become more successful than ever before.

Dickey's 2011 season may not look as good, with an 8-13 record and a 3.28 ERA. However, he didn't get particularly good run support that year. Had the Mets' offense and bullpen been more consistent, his numbers and record in particular would have definitely been better.

Dickey's first two seasons as a Met were both very nice, but they ended up being nothing compared to his heroics in 2012. This past season, Dickey was arguably the most dominating in all of baseball for the entire year. He won the NL Cy Young Award with a 20-6 record, a 2.73 ERA, a 1.053 WHIP, five complete games, three shutouts and 230 strikeouts in 233.2 innings pitched.

In between all of that, Dickey had two consecutive one-hit shutouts and 44.1 consecutive scoreless innings pitched to set a new Mets record. He also made the All-Star team for the first time in his career and pitched well despite not getting the start.

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The 2012 Mets only won 74 games altogether, but the fact Dickey himself recorded 20 of those 74 wins is quite remarkable. It goes to show how valuable he was for the Mets. Not only did he help the Mets win when he pitched, but his great season also led to more ticket sales at Citi Field, more merchandise sales, and altogether, more money for the Mets.

Even though the postseason became a lost cause by August, Mets fans still came out to see Dickey pitch, and it kept them interested in the team down the stretch more than anything by far.

Until this year, the Mets had not had a player win such a major award since Dwight Gooden won the NL Cy Young Award in 1985. The fact that Dickey became just the third Met to ever win the award is special in itself, but when mentioning his name alongside Gooden and Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, it shows the kind of elite company Dickey is now a part of.

As far as the Mets' future is concerned, Dickey would definitely be a big part of it. He is currently the Mets' ace and has the veteran presence necessary to offset the Mets' younger talent, which includes Niese, Harvey and Wheeler. With another solid season in 2013, Dickey could help lead the Mets back to the postseason for the first time since 2006. Even 15 or 16 wins and an ERA below 3.50 would be great from Dickey in future seasons, which means he does not necessarily have to pitch like a 20-game winner all the time.

The Mets have not been rumored to be looking to trade Dickey due to anything bad. It's clear that Dickey would certainly help the Mets for at least the next two or three seasons if he remains a Met. The fact of the matter though is that the Mets already have a big strength in their starting pitching. However, they also have three glaring weaknesses in their outfield, at catcher and throughout the bullpen. In order to upgrade a weakness, the Mets will have to sacrifice one of their strengths.

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
If Dickey does not get dealt, Jon Niese may be the one that the Mets would trade.

While starting pitching is one of the Mets' bigger strengths, Dickey does not necessarily have to be the one that ultimately gets traded. Other teams could be just as interested in Niese, who is younger and left-handed. Niese also has a relatively cheap contract that other teams might like. Lesser trade options among pitchers could include Dillon Gee, Jeruys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Collin McHugh.

The Mets also have other assets they could part ways with beyond pitchers. Offensively, the Mets have quite a few infield prospects that could be dealt, especially when considering the likelihood of David Wright and Ike Davis staying at third base and first base for the Mets for many more years. Some of the Mets' top infield prospects include Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini, Reese Havens and Jefry Marte. Outfield prospects Cesar Puello, Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker could all be trade bait as well.

Very few, if any of these prospects would likely interest other teams more than an established veteran like Dickey, but they are still worth considering for the greater good of the Mets.

The fact of the matter is that Dickey has done so much for the Mets this past season, and with his story and everything that has happened, the Mets just can't trade him right now. His value to the Mets completely outweighs his value on the open market, and the Mets could always find other players to trade at the right price.

Whether Dickey will be a Met in 2013 or playing elsewhere is nowhere close to being decided any time soon, but hopefully, the upcoming Winter Meetings in December will provide some clarity on what the Mets decide to do so with both Dickey and David Wright. Hopefully, the right decisions will be made because both deserve to be signed long-term by the Mets. Replacing either or both right now would be almost unimaginable and hopefully, the Mets will realize that very soon.

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