By Ed Coleman
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It should be on the docket immediately — if not sooner.
Well, that might be rushing the timeline just a bit, but there’s no mistaking Mets general manager Sandy Alderson’s priority: signing “core players” David Wright and R.A. Dickey to contract extensions — pronto.
Alderson acknowledged a fundamental shift in Mets policy, due mainly to the resolution of the Madoff financial mess and the addition of contributing minority investors.
“If you had the uncertainty that existed last spring, it would be difficult to make those long-term commitments,” he said. “Those (Wright and Dickey) are the two big issues. Retaining our own players is one of the key tenets of the approach we’re trying to take.”
Wright, in particular, the face of the franchise, has intrinsic value to the Mets organization above and beyond a baseball or monetary standard.
And what if Wright is not signed in speedy fashion or talks drag on or become stalemated?
“As you get further into the offseason with the uncertainty of the contract situation, then you do have to start thinking about other possibilities,” said Alderson. “That’s not something we’re contemplating right now, but there’s that inevitability.”
Alderson emphasized three goals moving forward:
1. Build through the farm system: “I would say over the first couple of years we’ve certainly looked to the farm system — obviously, not totally successfully.”
2. Retain the team’s core players: “We really haven’t, until now, been in a position to retain our core players. We are now.”
3. Acquire free agents or players by trade judiciously: “We really haven’t been able to be involved in a significant way in the free-agent market. We certainly have brought in players on a free-agent basis, but in terms of significant acquisitions, somewhat limited. But I can foresee that changing, perhaps not immediately, but in the near term.”
As for free agents this offseason, it’s not a great group, but don’t get your hopes up anyway.
“I don’t want to give the impression that we’re going to be out in the free-agent market looking for significant additions,” said Alderson. “We have lots of payroll tied up in a handful of players (Santana and Bay). That’s a situation that gradually has to resolve itself.”
Trade possibilities are a likelier option, but Alderson exhibited caution there as well: “I think it’s possible, given what we have, that we’ll be more active in the trade market. But that’s not a given, necessarily. I really do believe some of our players are on the verge of making bigger contributions.”
Alderson on some other issues:
— Is it a priority to find a bona fide catcher because of all the young pitching the Mets either currently have or have on the way?
— The need for power and having to look outside the organization for a power source. The Mets hit 139 HR on the season, ranking 11th in the National League.
— Figuring out how to win at Citi Field and utilizing a home-field advantage.
Me? I’d get Wright signed as quickly as possible. I’d also sign Dickey to an extension — and then trade him. His value will never be higher. But that’s for another day.
C U soon
Trade Dickey?! Let Eddie know what you think of that tidbit in the comments below…