MLB's Winter Meetings are underway, and R.A. Dickey doesn't have a new deal in place with the New York Mets, as he is technically under contract for one more year. Dickey's agent, Bo McKinnis, has had preliminary talks with the Mets management, but a deal has yet to be struck.
Dickey is a fan favorite. He is very approachable and understands how much the Mets fans mean. However, that doesn't mean the Mets are interested in locking up Dickey with a long-term contact.
Both sides seems far apart, as initial conversations indicate that the Mets wanted to offer a two-year deal. Knowing that the lifespan of a knuckleball pitcher lasts into their mid-40s, a two-year offer seems unreasonable to the reigning 2012 MLB AL Cy Young Award Winner, who just turned 38 years old on October 29.
Granted, the Mets don't want Dickey to just get by if they do sign him to a long-term contract. They would want Dickey to post similar numbers from this past season.
Dickey is coming of the 2012 season having won 20 games for the Mets and posting a 2.73 ERA, 230 strikeouts, along with 27 quality starts.
There is chatter that Dickey will never reach 20 wins again, believing his value is at its highest now, where the Mets best option is to trade him in return for a difference making player.
A trade to another team wouldn't surprise Dickey, as he has moved roughly 38 times throughout his professional baseball career. Dickey himself argues that Phil Neikro won 120 games after his 40th birthday and would love to stay with the Mets, but understands if Mets general manager Sandy Alderson trades him. Dickey's wish is that he is traded to a contender who wants to win.
There is much more that Dickey offers to a fanbase than just numbers. If you haven't watched Knuckleball!, do yourself a favor and go see it or buy it. It is an incredible film about the history of the knuckleball pitch, following MLB's only knuckleball pitchers, Tim Wakefield and Dickey, in the 2011 season. Of course, Dickey is the only knuckleball pitcher in the game, as Wakefield retired at the end of the 2011 season.
Better yet, if you really want to know what R.A. Dickey is about, read his recent book, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity, and The Perfect Knuckleball. If you don't have the time for either, let me give you the quick lowdown on Dickey.
He is a man of faith who dealt with childhood abuse and an affair, who started out his baseball career as a No. 1 draft choice of the Texas Rangers in 1996. Dickey went from an $810,000 signing bonus to $75,000 when a medical evaluation revealed he was missing his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm.
It is not a very pretty story, as he hits the low point of his career by tying the MLB record in 2006 by giving up six home runs in his first start of the season as a knuckleball pitcher, where he was demoted to Triple-A. The Rangers had sent Dickey down to the minors to make the switch to a knuckleball pitcher, but the Rangers had enough and did not sign Dickey back.
Dickey signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewer and spent the 2007 with Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds. Dickey played for the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and spent the 2009 season with the Minnesota Twins.
In 2010, as a traveling journeyman, Dickey landed with the Mets organization, signing another minor league contract. It seemed he would continue to languish in the minors hoping for one last shot in the big leagues.
Dickey got that shot after throwing a one-hitter for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, where he gave up a hit to the first batter then retired the next 27 batters.
On May 19 of the 2010 season, Dickey got the call he was waiting for, as he made his first start for the New York Mets. He pitched well enough to earn another start, eventually ending the 2010 campaign with a 2.84 ERA, ranking him 10th in baseball.
Dickey agreed to a two-year contract entering the 2011 season, receiving a $1 million signing bonus, $2.25 million in 2011 and $4.25 million in 2012.
Dickey is under contract for the upcoming 2013 season, where the Mets have a $5 million option with a $300,000 buyout.
With the understanding that the Washington Nationals signed Dan Haren to a one-year, $13 million contract, Dickey is worth every bit of that amount per season over the next four years. Dickey is worth a four-year, $52 million contract, as he will only be a 42-year-old knuckleball pitcher at the end of the contract. Former knuckleball pitcher Charlie Hough stated in Knuckleball! that Dickey could pitcher another 10 years.
If the Mets don't sign Dickey, another team will gladly sign him, as numerous teams are interested in his services. Tim Wakefield was a 17-game winner at 41 years old. Though Dickey may never top 20 wins again in a season, there is no reason to believe that he can't obtain 17 wins in a season like Wakefield. Dickey has an advantage with a knuckleball that touches over 80 MPH.