ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday made it pretty clear: "If the Mets don't figure out a way to re-sign the 38-year-old [R.A.] Dickey, the Wilpon family ought to sell the team. Seriously."
Saturday it appeared the first moves toward keeping the knuckleballer have been made. The New York Daily News' Andy Martino said the two sides have been negotiating off of a two-year deal for two weeks now, while FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mets "plan" on offering the knuckleballer an extension of that length. Regardless of the exact details, it's an indication that the Mets do want to let their Cy Young winner finish his career in New York.
Still, Olney brings up a good point: the Mets' payroll has dipped to $92 million and they're now operating like a mid-market team in one of the biggest markets in the world, let alone baseball. I don't think there's this trade-him/sign-him debate five years ago because the Mets would've had him extended by now. But after the Wilpons' involvement in the Madoff Ponzi scheme and subsequent financial troubles, fans share the same sentiment Olney expresses. However, there's just no way the Wilpon family won't be the owners of this team. Even though the Mets are not living like a big-market team now, it does seem like better days are ahead (or at least that's what they've portrayed). Plus, the Wilpons are clearly not operating like Marlins owner Jeffrey Lloria, who shed $160 million in a salary-dump trade to the Blue Jays after fooling us all (again) last offseason, so to suggest the Mets be sold is a little harsh. The Mets clearly want to keep David Wright and there's obvious interest in retaining Dickey.
Olney tweeted Saturday that Dickey seeks more than $10 million a year if a two-year pact is on the table. Nobody knows the specifics of the Mets' offer, but speculation is that Sandy Alderson is thinking along the lines of $10 to $12 million a year. It's clear that the sticking point in these talks will be dollars and not years because all indications are that Dickey is open to a two-year extension.
Beyond that, even if the Mets have the "financial flexibility" to retain Dickey as Olney suggests, this is as much a baseball move as a money one. It's a win-win for the Mets: With a number of holes on the roster, Alderson is right to see what the trade market has to offer. If nothing is worth carrying out, he figures out what works for Dickey and keeps him in New York, something that already seems to be occurring.