New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson went into the Major League Baseball winter meetings in Nashville with a substantial to-do list. After four days of convening with the league's other 29 general managers, that to-do list hasn't changed.
Alderson's team has a lot of needs. The general manager had the perfect occasion to meet at least a few of those needs, but failed to do so because the free-agency situation around the league won't be clear until top-tier players (i.e. Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton) are signed.
The main topic of discussion in Tennessee this week was the R.A. Dickey situation. Will he receive a contract extension? Will he be traded for a wealth of major-league-ready prospects? Will the Mets allow him to enter the option year in 2013 without a new contract?
Answers to these questions remain to be seen, as the Mets haven't taken any of these options off the table. Eight teams inquired about Dickey at the winter meetings (via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman), but Alderson and his counterparts couldn't swing any deals.
When it comes to inking Dickey to a contract extension, minimal headway has been made by both parties. According to the New York Daily News' Andy Martino, Dickey is looking for a two-year extension worth around $26 million, a number that the Mets aren't likely to meet.
Don't be surprised if this issue is resolved later rather than sooner.
As far as finding a platoon partner for Josh Thole behind the plate, Alderson has been on the prowl for a right-handed-hitting catcher.
Finding a big-league-ready catcher could be directly related to what becomes of Dickey and his tenure with the Mets. FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweeted the following:
Source: #Mets don’t want to go two years on S. Hairston, considering other options. Catcher could come back for Dickey or in another deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012
While Alderson is more concerned with finding a complementary guy to Thole rather than a replacement, the latter may be a better idea. Thole's defensive game improved over the first half of the season but diminished as the campaign progressed, a fact that doesn't bode well for a catcher who hit one homer and drove in 21 runs.
A rumor recently came up that pertained to the Mets acquiring a catcher from the Boston Red Sox, who have numerous assets at the position (via Boston Globe's Peter Abraham). Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway were talked about, but Alderson would likely ask for more for the reigning Cy Young winner.
Speaking of outfielder Scott Hairston, the Mets are in the market for a mid-level outfielder with a mid-level price tag. Guys like Hamilton and Michael Bourn obviously aren't options because of the lack of financial flexibility, but a closer-to-average guy like Cody Ross or Austin Kearns wouldn't be a bad signing.
Hairston is a fan favorite, and the Mets need to have a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lineup and in the corner of their outfield. But, declining to sign a 32-year-old part-time player who can't hit righties to a two-year deal is the right decision.
Relief pitching is another vulnerable area for the Mets, as a lack of arms capable of coming in for the sixth and seventh innings will prove fatal yet again if left unaddressed. Alderson hasn't gotten anything done in that respect, but bullpen guys come and go from year to year, so he should be able to find a suitable middle-inning arm.
Although things seem pretty stagnant at this point, it appears Alderson has some course of action in the works for the remainder of the winter.
David Wright, according to NYDN's Bill Price, alluded to the fact that Alderson has a plan:
Wright said he would not only be comfortable recruiting a player here, he would be "confident" doing it, too, so clearly the plan that Wilpon and Alderson laid out for him is probably a really good one. But injuries, a few free-agent busts (we've had our share of them) can quickly ruin those plans.
The prospects of a productive offseason may seem bleak to Mets fans, but unless Alderson used smoke and mirrors when negotiating with Wright, intelligent, frugal moves are on the horizon.
There is no doubt that the way this offseason is perceived will be contingent upon the outcome of the Dickey dilemma. Shipping off a Cy Young winner mere months after he was declared the best pitcher in the National League would upset plenty, but it would be impossible to deny that it would be the right move for the organization's future.
Acquiring a catcher, outfielder and bullpen help may seem far less significant than the Dickey situation, but filling those massive holes will prove to be just as important next season.
The winter meetings have concluded, but Alderson's work isn't close to done.