Price for Dickey Just Went Up

UPDATE (11/23/2012) via
In choosing to sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the New York Yankees, right-hander Hiroki Kuroda declined other teams’ offers of more money and years, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told Wednesday.

In case you missed it, the Yankees just re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $15M contract that includes another $1M in incentives. How does this affect R.A. Dickey’s contract extension negotiations with the Mets? Well, the answer is, how does it not?

Granted, Kuroda received only a one-year deal, while R.A. is reportedly seeking at least a two-year extension — which when tacked on to the final year of his current contract, becomes a three-year commitment. Further, Kuroda had the benefit and leverage of being on the open market, so the Yankees might have needed to overpay somewhat to lock him up. But still, you have to figure that the Kuroda signing is seen as a “comp” to R.A., considering the similarities in age (both will be 38 for the majority of 2013), durability (both have thrown 200+ innings in each of the past two years), market (both in NY), and performance (use any stat you wish; you’ll see the two are very similar — for example, Dickey had a 5.6 WAR while Kuroda’s was 5.2).

So, if on the open market, and pitching in the biggest market, Kuroda is worth $15M+ per season, shouldn’t R.A. Dickey be worth at least that much?

Previously, people were pointing to the Jake Peavy deal as a “comp” — two years for $29M. I suppose there’s some logic to that, and it certainly helps R.A.’s cause, but again, I have to believe R.A. is worth AT LEAST that much if not more. Sure, Peavy put up a similar performance to Dickey in 2012, but it was the first time since 2008 that Peavy threw more than 120 innings; he’s been riddled with injuries throughout his career. I don’t believe a GM (or any other baseball “expert”) can suggest that R.A.’s health going forward is more risky than Peavy’s, because that theory is based solely on age and nothing else. Peavy has always pitched with dangerous, harmful mechanics, and continues to do so — thus, another arm injury is to be expected. In contrast, R.A.’s mechanics are simple, efficient, and safe — that, more than his knuckleball, makes him more likely to remain healthy for the next 3+ years. And what’s more valuable: an ace pitcher whose mechanics and track record suggest he’ll spend considerable time off the mound, or an ace pitcher whose mechanics and track record suggest he’ll make most if not all of his starts?

If you are a loyal MetsToday reader, you know I don’t see Mets players through blue and orange glasses — my view is fairly balanced. Looking at this from a completely unbiased perspective, I have to think that R.A. Dickey would obtain at least a 3-year, $50M deal on the open market. Granted, that doesn’t mean that’s the price and commitment the Mets need to make, since he’s not on the open market, but if I’m Dickey’s agent, that’s where I’m starting the conversation. If R.A. takes the Peavy-like, two-year, $30M extension that is being thrown around publicly, I’d be concerned, because it says to me that there is something that R.A. knows that we don’t. After what he’s accomplished in the past three years, he should have the confidence to a.) hold his ground on obtaining what he’s worth; or b.) pitch another good to great season in 2013.

Or, maybe R.A. is one of those rare people who simply don’t care that much about money AND believe the Mets are going to contend for the World Series by 2015.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Dan Capwell November 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm
    What concerns me most is that the Mets have the option to do nothing here, either with Dickey and Wright. They have them under contract for 2013 and are under no obligation to do anything but pay them. I don’t take Sandy Alderson’s comments seriously anymore and I could easily see a scenario that has both players here for one more year and departing in exchange for draft picks. I hope not, but I think we should be prepared for that outcome.
    • Izzy November 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm
      You know the new rules. you get a SANDWICH pick, but only if your offer them a 13.3 million dollar contract first. Only that one pick. You don’t win letting them go via FA.
  2. NormE November 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm
    What are the odds that when 2014 rolls around neither Dickey nor Wright will be working for the Wilpons?
  3. Joe November 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm
    Mostly off topic, Chris Young got an extra 350K for making his 20th start:

    I think the analysis is fine but 30M for two years is not chickenfeed and accepting that sort of thing isn’t really a sign he doesn’t “care much” about money. He very well might be comfortable enough where he is the last three years & so on. It might mean he doesn’t “only” care about money but not quite the same thing.

    Are the Mets actually willing to spend that much for the guy?

  4. Dan B November 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm
    The only problem with your math is that Dickey is not a free agent and Kuroda was and that matters a lot. The fact that he has one more year left on his contract means Dickey has the option to sign an extension now or wait until the end of 2013 and sign a new contract as a free agent. By waiting, he would have more suitors for his services and would end up signing with the team that bids the highest. The chances of the Mets bidding the highest for a free agent is …. slight. However, by signing now, Dickey is removing the risk of him getting injured or having a let down year in 2013. He could also have an even better year and drive his price up even higher, but the chances of him doing that is less then the chances of a let down. By signing now, Dickey would be giving a discount, though a small discount, for transfering the risk of a let down season onto the Mets. Risk transfer is a common practice in business. (It was actually one of the driving factors of the real estate collapse as the price of risk transfers fell below the actual risk)

    Like my fellow Dan, I worry about the Mets doing nothing. I could definately see a scenario where the Mets do not sign Wright and Dickey, let them stay with the Mets because of their appeal to ticket buyers (“buy a four pack ticket package to see David Wright’s last home series with the Mets!”) and then let them walk for nothing.

    • Joe Janish November 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm
      Thanks for the comments, Dan. I alluded to the fact that there is a difference between open market and under contract; my feeling is that if R.A. were on the open market right now, he’d be getting a higher offer than Kuroda’s $15M/year (my guess is somewhere between $17M-$18M). Of course that’s just my opinion, but if you agree with that, then R.A. should be worth at least $15M/per via an extension. Further, that $15M starts with 2013 — $10M more than he’s already guaranteed. That said, $15M x 3 = $45M, which is a fair figure and (again, my opinion) far less than what he’d receive on the open market right now.
      • eddie ru November 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm
        The most logical move for the Mets is to trade Dickey. They don’t have the pieces to be a serious contender. His value is high and can only go down as time goes on.
  5. Dan B November 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm
    I think your numbers sound right or even a little low. Even though Dickey is not exactly young (i refuse to label anyone, athlete or not, old when they are in the 30s), he has assets other pictures don’t. The marginal fan will pay money to see him because of the knuckleball and because of his story. He also is an asset in the clubhouse even when he doesn’t pitch (remember that Omar signed him originally with an eye on making him a coach). The Cy Young award also brings respect and it tells potential season ticket fans that your team just signed the best. Though, I think the rise of StubHub was the beginning of the end of season ticket packages as we knew it. But that is another post subject.
  6. John D. November 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm
    I’m afraid that both Wright and Dickey will play out their options and walk at the end of the season. In fact, that is what the resident team genius, Jeff Wilpon, said was the second-most attractive option for these two (after signing them to new deals). Evidently, Jeff thinks its better for the Mets to get a couple of draft picks for these two valuable players than trade them for other pieces that could fill gaping holes in the line up. This neatly sums up why the Mets will never contend again while the Wilpons own the team. On second thought, why can’t they buy a horse farm and banish Jeff to it, like the Yankees did with Hankenstein?
  7. DaveSchneck November 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm
    Every time Jeff W. speaks it scares me. However, I dismiss anything that anyone involved says during negotiations. This is business. Dan B. makes a great point above about risk, and it is not to be underestimated. Any pitcher that defers signing a multi-year extension is taking a big risk. A 38-year-old with an unconventional pitch and missing elbow tendon is taking an even bigger risk. Should he incur an arm injury or pitch to a 5+ era in 2013, however unlikely, he will never again get the chance for the type of deal he can sign now. He is already weathier than most all of us. And, he could “lose out” on millions by taking say 2 yrs/$26 million now. However, that coin is still plenty much to secure his family’s financial security for the rest of their lives. I say he would take 2 yrs/$26 mil now to mitigate that risk to his family and stay in familiar surroundings where he is a cult hero amongst the fan base.
    • Joe Janish November 23, 2012 at 2:05 am
      The risk is real, and a valid, significant point.

      However, I have to wonder if we are not overestimating it. I don’t think the elbow is an issue; if he’s gone this far without the tendon — spending most of his life throwing fastballs, curves, and sliders — I can’t imagine the knuckleball being the straw that breaks the camel’s UCL. Of course, I could be wrong. As for pitching to a 5 ERA, yeah, it’s possible. But, my personal theory is that knuckleball pitchers get better and better as they continue to understand, learn, and perfect the pitch with repetition. R.A. is the type to put in the reps to perfect; he’ll be further motivated if he’s in a walk year.

      This is a man who came from nothing and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro BEFORE he won a Cy Young and put himself into this big payday; I have to believe that fear (of a bad season or injury) is not what will motivate him to sign a contract.

  8. argonbunnies November 23, 2012 at 4:34 am
    Couldn’t agree more, Joe. Anyone who signs Dickey for less than 3 years, $55 million is getting a good deal.

    Just think: in order to get 3 years of Cole Hamels at $55 million (and Hamels and Dickey’s stats are quite similar over the last 3 years), the Phils also had to take another 4 years of Hamels at another $87 million. The same is true for Matt Cain.

    If Dickey had Boras as his agent, I’d bet that 3/$54 was a near-lock. As is, somehow his value’s been artificially depressed. It’s baffling.

  9. Dan B November 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm
    Do not underestimate Dickey’s competitive nature. Athletes, by nature, are compulsively competitive people. They compete between teams using wins and losses. But they also compete between each other using dollars and cents. That is why an athlete will try to squeeze an extra few millions out of large contract. It is not because they need the money. It is because they judge themselves against other athletes using salary as a scale. It is the same with a CEO who will fight for a large salary even if it hurts their own corporation. He is comparing his salary to other CEOs.

    Is Dickey so competitve that he will fight for the last dollar? Would he be insulted by the way the Mets negotiate? Is he judging himself in terms of this salary? I have no idea since he seems to be more well rounded and self aware of any athlete I have ever followed. But considering how long and how hard he faught to be a star athlete, he must have a competitive personality.

    • Joe Janish November 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm
      No doubt the man is a fierce competitor – one of the true mound warriors of our time. He once spent a spring diving into crocodile-infested waters to make a few extra dollars, for goodness sakes! Good points you bring up. I suppose we’ll see soon enough if that competitiveness carries to the negotiating table.
  10. Steven November 24, 2012 at 10:59 am
    Given the Wilpon’s position, it may be that letting them play through 2013 actually is the best option. Unless they get real value in a trade (and I am talking at least two major leaguers), the thinking might be that perhaps the Mets can have an Oakland type season in 2013 and the added revenue (plus payroll drop) will give the Mets a shot at signing them next year. This is the position that the Mets stupid financial moves have put them – they need to roll the dive in 2013
    • Joe Janish November 25, 2012 at 12:01 am
      The Mets would need a LOT of things to go right (for them) and a number of things to wrong (for everyone else in the NL East) for them to have an Oakland type of season in ’13. Anything’s possible, of course, but if that’s the plan, it’s an incredible gamble.
  11. J November 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm
    These Wilpons need to open up their wallets several millions more–and stop beating around the bush fairy. Give Dickey & Wright the contracts their deserve–and go hunt down Justin Upton—give wheeler a shot at starting 2013 in the starting 5– and make that bullpen sharp like it needs to be. Another extra bat would be ideal even on top of Upton- trade Duda and somebody else like a prospect that’s not too high–include Torres–and get themselves another outfielder with power and uprising potential –
    • Dan November 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm
      All it would take is money, the one thing that the Wilpons are not willing (or able) to part with.
      • Izzy November 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm
        Monwy? How about if the wilpons produced a product that would do something they are incapable of understanding, generating money the old fashioned way, by giving a quality product to the consumer. Jist think if the Mets spent some moeny. My gosh, citi Field would have over 40,000 bodies in the park each night instead of 20 something, the parking lots would be full of those 16 bucks a car happy fans, the stores in the park would be ripping happy customers off selling those overpriced jersies witha name on the back. What a thought. But hey, its easier to say we don’t have any money, our free ride to the bank went to jail and left us broke at the alter. If they can’t afford a team, get the hell out,
        • NormE November 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm
          Well said!
          Unfortunately, the Commissioner works for the owners and as long as each owner remains loyal MLB will do nothing.
          This is a very short-sighted view of the best interests of baseball. Izzy’s proposition would benefit NY and the other teams because an attractive NY team helps everyone.