COMMENTARY | A little more than two months away from the start of Spring Training, the New York Mets can best be described as a work in progress. Few teams, if any, have this much uncertainty.
Though the move was an important one for the organization, signing Wright to an eight-year, $138 million contract, a deal made official this past week, did not make the Mets a better team. The Mets still have incredible holes in the outfield, need to find another catcher, and have some work to do in the bullpen.
Nowhere, however, is the need greater than in the outfield where, as of now, the Mets would enter the season with Lucas Duda in left field, Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center field, and either Mike Baxter or Jordany Valdespin in right field. The Mets need to add at least one outfielder, preferably a right-handed hitter since the four aforementioned players all hit from the left side.
It appears that the Mets have some interest in bringing back Scott Hairston, who hit 20 home runs for them last year. The thought all along has been that Hairston would get more money than the Mets would want to pay, but there are a number of free agents still out there and Hairston may end up being affordable for the Mets. In any event, expect the Mets to go after a Hairston-like player, or even a player of lesser value, instead of pursuing someone like Michael Bourn, who is sure to get a lot more money than the Mets want to spend, or Josh Hamilton, the best everyday player on the market, who is most certainly out of the Mets' price range.
Moving on to other needs, it doesn't seem like the Mets are making much progress finding a righty-hitting catcher to complement Josh Thole, and the options at the position appear to be limited. They also find themselves in the familiar position of having to remake the bullpen.
But Dickey's future is most intriguing. The Mets are trying to sign the 2012 Cy Young Award winner to an extension, but are simultaneously talking to other teams about a trade. If the Mets are going to trade him, they have to get something substantial back in return. That's why names like Wil Myers of the Kansas City Royals, Mike Olt of the Texas Rangers, and Travis d'Arnaud of the Toronto Blue Jays have been bandied about. They're among the game's top prospects who the Mets would need to get back in return for Dickey.
Whether or not the Mets should trade Dickey is one thing, but the real issue is that it's already December, the winter meetings have passed, and there's still no resolution. Dickey could come back next year without a new deal and pitch for the $5 million he's under contract for, but that appears to be the least likely scenario.
So while the Mets' present and future became a bit clearer when the club signed Wright through 2020, there are still questions in the outfield, at catcher, and in the bullpen. And, like the knuckleball he throws, Dickey is hanging out there as well.
If David Wright is the face of the franchise, R.A. Dickey is the face of the franchise's uncertainty.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.