Mets

Coutinho: Should Mets Extend R.A. Dickey Or Trade Him?

R.A. Dickey (credit: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images), Sandy Alderson (credit: Jason Szenes/Getty Images)

R.A. Dickey (credit: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images), Sandy Alderson (credit: Jason Szenes/Getty Images)

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By Rich Coutinho
» More Columns

The Twitterverse has been debating the R.A. Dickey case for weeks now, and the question remains the same: Would the Mets be better off trading the Cy Young Award-winner or would keeping him make the team stronger?

The answer remains constant: It depends.

The Mets are a better team in 2013 with the quintet of Johan Santana, Dickey, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee intact, especially with this guy named Zack Wheeler on the horizon.

The Mets have exchanged numbers with Dickey, and I’m hearing the two-year offer could be somewhat higher than $20 million, but still not where the knuckleballer wants it to be. In the meantime, the trade market has redefined itself with Zack Greinke and James Shields off the market and two to three teams remaining that would still want a pitcher like Dickey. Those teams, in my opinion, are the Jays, Rangers and Tigers — all of which have expressed interest.

Despite all the naysayers in the blogosphere, Sandy Alderson is doing exactly what he should be doing — keeping his options open. Slowly increasing the offer to Dickey gives Alderson the time to let the trade market take shape. The teams left without a front-line starter might become a little antsy to get a deal done and could up the offer, much like the Giants when Sandy made Carlos Beltran available.

It also serves another purpose — it gives the Dickey camp some things to ponder. Will they risk injury or a sub-par season in 2013 to get to a potentially lucrative opportunity in free agency? And even if they get to that point, what would a 39-year-old pitcher get in terms of dollars and length of contract?

So we return to the original question of stay or go. It comes down to: If Sandy Alderson gets two players that can immediately help him, will he trade Dickey or  Niese? Remember the Mets have the leverage here — they have Dickey under contract at a very affordable salary. They have a pitcher other teams want. The issue will be taken care of on their timetable, and they will do what is best for the organization keeping in mind the plan they have in place.

And this group will not succumb to public pressure to make a deal either with Dickey or another team just to placate their fan base.

That is how the Mets used to make decisions — and it got them nowhere.

Have patience and faith in Alderson. I promise you, a year or so down the road, you will like what you see at Citi Field. Some of the building blocks are already in place, with much work still left to do.

And this R.A. Dickey decision is a tough call — one that could define 2013 and beyond.

Extend or trade — that’s the question. And your answer is? Make your case in the comments…