The joy of baseball's winter meetings is that everything is a rumor and therefore impending and obviously happening. You have hundreds of baseball reporters essentially locked in a hotel lobby, obligated to keep the Twitter machine running smoothly. Last year, the focus of every conversation at the winter meetings was whether the Cardinals would sign Albert Pujols or the Marlins would. Right as everyone leaving, with everyone stowing away their computers, the Angels swooped in and signed him without anyone knowing. There's a lot of talk and not much happening. Which leads us all to R.A. Dickey.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said yesterday that he has been talking with "several" clubs about trading the defending Cy Young Award winner, and when someone admits they're having discussions, even someone as perpetually candid as Alderson, there's likely plenty of smoke and fire. Alderson didn't specify any teams he talked to, but reports have the Dodgers and the Red Sox most interested. It is perhaps not surprising that those are the teams generally thought to have the most money to spend, considering Dickey is a free agent after this season and they wouldn’t want to trade a bunch of assets without some assurance he’ll be willing to stick around after this year.
One suspects Alderson will require the moon, and perhaps a few satellites of Jupiter, to trade Dickey. “If we're looking for a package, it needs to have a difference-maker," Alderson said. "Otherwise, we'd be reluctant to do it." It’s not known whether this “difference-maker” would have to be someone like top Dodgers prospects Zach Lee or if Alderson would take less. It would seem to require a ton, considering Dickey’s popularity — he’ll be talking to Mets fan Jon Stewart on The Daily Show tonight — and how he’s pretty much the only happy thing to happen to the Mets in the last half-decade.
That said, he is 37 years old and looking for his first real payday. Are the Mets going to win a World Series with him in the next two years? If not — and, uh, they’re not — Alderson would be a fool not to get the best deal he could. It’s possible everyone’s waiting around to see how much Zach Greinke goes for; he could end up setting the market and giving Alderson a better sense of what people will be offering and who’s in the bidding.
The question: Is everybody cool with Alderson trading Dickey? In a baseball sense, it’s a defensible move in every way; the Mets have a ton of needs and could potentially fill a lot of them by trading a 37-year-old pitcher who’s probably due to regress a bit anyway. On the other hand: You know, the world loves Dickey. It’s an impossible call, but that Alderson is speaking so openly about sending him off gives us all a pretty solid clue. Though we’ll surely have to go through about 60 more rumors first.