By Ernie Palladino
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David Wright didn’t sign a new eight-year, $138 million contract with the Mets just to hang around with a fourth-place club.
He wants to win. And somehow, Jeff and Fred Wilpon convinced him that they have a definite plan to make the Mets relevant in the very near future.
Perhaps they told Wright something the rest of us don’t know. Right now, with the Winter Meetings closed and GM Sandy Alderson having fielded little but talk from the Rangers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Dodgers for Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, there’s not a whole lot of shaking going on in Metsville.
But don’t worry. Wilpon the Younger, the COO of what has become a perennial second-division team, told a small group of reporters Thursday during a visit to Hurricane Sandy-damaged Staten Island that there is, indeed, a plan in place.
“The offseason is just starting,” Wilpon said. “We’re leaving the Winter Meetings with nothing done with R.A., but that doesn’t mean that we’re not still trying. Sandy is still out there meeting with (Dickey’s representatives), still meeting about trades.
“The winter is shaping up as expected.”
Alderson has certainly dangled the 38-year-old knuckleballer, but has yet to hear anything worthwhile as far as prospects or proven talent goes. And that means a state of limbo exists for Dickey who, if worse comes to worst, will simply play out his $5 million option year in blue and orange and then hope for the best come free agency next season. Don’t rule out an in-season trade, either.
It might have been nice to hear something more definitive from Wilpon. But we didn’t really expect that to happen, right?
Instead, Dickey may get traded, or he may not. Or maybe it’s likely he won’t, unless the right circumstances occur.
“No, it is not likely,” Wilpon said about the possibilities of a Dickey trade. “We’re going to continue the process of trying to sign him. We’re going to continue the process of Sandy talking to teams about trade possibilities.
“He’s under contract, so he’s got a landing spot with us, and he’s obviously very helpful to our organization. We could sign him to an extension, he could get traded, we could have him pitch under his contract. Any one of those three.
“We’re moving forward with the plan Sandy has. Once some of the other free agents get signed, we’ll settle into some of the other opportunities we have.”
It all seems disturbingly open-ended at this point. But at least Wright is in place. And he seemed content that one way or another the Mets are headed in the proper direction.
Even he acknowledged, however, that that may or may not include Dickey.
“We went over dozens of players in our minor leagues and players we’d either like to trade for or sign as free agents,” Wright said of his conversations with Alderson. “There’s a plan in place. You can’t just go out there and open the checkbook for all the big-ticket free agents. And you can’t just trade or rely on your minor league system.
“Before all the conversations about contract-type stuff, it was those conversations that had me sold. The negotiations were a formality after that.”
As for Dickey, Wright loves him to death.
“It’s an odd situation where you’d really want him back, but you understand both sides of it,” Wright said. “He understands where we’re at and what he can bring in a trade. It’s a compliment to him, really.”
Still, the fluidity of the Dickey situation makes one think the Mets still don’t have a handle on this roster thing. Unless Alderson moves quickly, they may well exit this offseason with the contractual extension of their organizational face as their sole triumph.
And that won’t bode well for an All-Star third baseman — or a fan base — who desperately want to win.
What exactly would make this offseason a success? Mets fans, be heard in the comments!