NEW YORK (AP) — R.A. Dickey and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson can agree on one thing — they would prefer to have closure before opening day.
The NL Cy Young Award winner can become a free agent after 2013 and says he won't negotiate once the season starts, so the Mets probably have to sign him to a new contract or trade him to get the best return.
Dickey says it "would be disappointing" if he simply played out his option year and became a free agent. If that occurred, he said he thinks he wouldn't return to the Mets, a team with which he says he has "a real connection."
"If that's the decision that they make, I feel like it would be unfortunate because it probably is going mean that I'm not going to be back," Dickey said. "And that would be sad. ... That would be disappointing."
At a team event Tuesday for children displaced from their schools by Superstorm Sandy, Dickey and Alderson said the sides were still apart.
The Mets have two ways to get the most out of their investment of Dickey, who is coming off a season in which he led the NL with 230 strikeouts and went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. The year before, he was the first player the Mets cut in spring training, though he worked his way to New York and earned a spot in the rotation at the end of the year.
In 2012, he blossomed into an All-Star — and his contract for next season pays him well below market value. He's due $5 million for next season, which could make the 38-year-old attractive in a trade. Or the knuckleballer could sign a multiyear deal with the organization that gave him a chance when most players in Dickey's position would have been out of baseball.
Or he could leave after 2013.
"I would say of the three options, the three scenarios that have developed, that would probably be the least optimal. So to that extent at least we agree," Alderson said. "Would it be acceptable? From our standpoint, yes."
For Dickey, who had most of his first-round bonus withdrawn by the Texas Rangers in 1996 when a physical revealed that he has no ulnar collateral ligament, it's the first time he's been such a hot commodity.
He's never negotiated with a team for a deal of this size, and the experience appears to have been somewhat jarring for the thoughtful right-hander who keeps Haruki Murakami novels in his locker and has said he'd like to teach high-school English if he didn't play baseball.
"Things are emotional for me. When people say it's business, it's not personal, that just means it's not personal for them. It can be personal for me. I'm hoping that it's going to end up in a good place, but you can't help in the back of your mind think that it may not, and that's sad," Dickey said. "All along, this has been the place that I've been — and that's not just the company line, I mean I feel a real connection to this place. But at the same time, you don't want to be taken advantage of.
"So that's where we are."