|Mets Should Sign Dickey to Long-Term Deal||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on July 07, 2012
The 37-year-old has an option year built into his contract for 2013, but the Mets should think about locking Dickey up for the rest of his career based on his success with the knuckleball.
Photo by slgckgc, used under creative commons license.
Dickey found his groove in 2010 with the Mets after spending parts of seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins. He was the 18th overall pick by the Rangers in 1996, but he could not figure it out early on.
He was a fastball pitcher who threw in the low 90s, but it was discovered during his physical that he was born without an ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He, therefore, was not afforded the $810,000 signing bonus he and the Rangers originally agreed to.
After nearly 10 years in the minors, Dickey earned a rotation spot in 2006 and set a Major League record in his first start but one that he wishes he were not associated with. He gave up six home runs and was immediately sent back to the minors.
Along the way, something must have clicked for Dickey in his development of the knuckleball. Maybe it was as simple as him gaining the confidence that he needed to throw it consistently and throw it for strikes.
Everyone points to his fast start in 2010 with the Mets, but he was actually the first player cut that year in spring training. However, he threw a gem for the Triple-A Buffalo Bison in which he gave up a hit to the first batter and then retired 27 straight. The Mets were intrigued enough to give him a shot.
He got off to a slow start in 2011, but the second half of last year now into this season, Dickey has been dominant. Though he’s 37, he’s much younger in “knuckleball” years. Fellow knuckleballer Tim Wakefield pitched for the Boston Red Sox until he was 44.
The Mets took a slight gamble by signing Dickey to a two-year deal with an option prior to the 2011 season. He had a great five-month stretch, but was that by itself enough to warrant that sort of deal?
It’s definitely paid off, and Dickey has already earned another long-term contract. He’s said he’d like to stay in New York, because that’s the place he’s experienced his success.
The Mets have several good-looking young pitching prospects on the farm, but that shouldn’t stop the team from securing Dickey to maybe a three- or four-year deal. Dickey turns 38 in October, so he will be 39 at the start of his next contract due to the 2013 option year.
Will the Mets feel comfortable giving a four-year deal to a 39-year-old? Well, if Wakefield is any evidence, Dickey should still have at least five more productive years by that time.
If the Mets aren’t willing to go all in on Dickey, there’s likely a team that will give him the extra year. He’s been “Ri-Dickey-ulous” over this three-year stretch, and he’s likely to be rewarded.