Sandy Alderson is set on keeping All-Stars David Wright and R.A. Dickey with the Mets.
New York's general manager told a group of season-ticket holders a few hours before the Mets played the Houston Astros on Sunday he wants to deal with contracts for Dickey and Wright this offseason even though the team holds options on each player for 2013.
"I fully expect that David Wright and R.A. Dickey will be here not only next year, but longer term," he said to cheers from the fans. "We're going to deal with it up front while we have a little room to maneuver."
Wright and Dickey are two bright spots in a season that has gone sour after the All-Star break. At 59-69, the Mets are headed for their sixth straight season without a playoff appearance and fourth in a row finishing under .500.
But the 29-year-old Wright is having one of his finest seasons, batting .317 with 17 homers and 76 RBIs. He entered Sunday with a .411 on-base percentage, second in the major leagues. Dickey has ridden his knuckleball right into the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award. The first-time All-Star is tied for the league lead in wins with 16 and has a 2.76 ERA with a career-high 183 strikeouts.
"Once the season gets over I'll sit down with the people that are important to me and discuss what means the most to me, what factors are going to be important to me and go from there," Wright said after the Mets' 2-1 win over Houston.
The 37-year-old Dickey revived his career by becoming a knuckleball pitcher and, in 2010, the Mets in gave him a chance to prove he could excel in a rotation. He would like to repay that trust — if the circumstances are right.
"I'm open to talking about whatever they would like. I love it here. A part of me enjoys being loyal to an organization that has given me a shot," Dickey said. "I do want to win, too, because I am at the place I am in my career. And I want to be a part of that solution here, whatever that's going to be. I would like to know what direction that we're going. I think that's fair. Make the decisions accordingly."
Manager Terry Collins thinks the talent is in the organization. He cited the emergence of pitcher Matt Harvey and players such as first baseman Ike Davis and outfielder Lucas Duda, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Sunday, as reasons to be hopeful.
"I think those guys realize we have the pieces. We've got to keep them healthy. We've got to keep them more consistent," Collins said. "If those pieces are there I think David and R.A. are saying, 'Look we've got a chance to win, and fast.'"
Dickey is being paid $4,750,000 in the final season of a $7.8 million, two-year contract and the Mets have a $5,000,000 option for 2013. Wright's salary is $15.25 million this season, the sixth year of his deal, and New York holds a $16 million option for next year.
"I'm not necessarily looking for leverage. I'm not necessarily looking for every last penny I can make in this game," said Wright, who has played all nine years of his career in New York. "There's going to be a lot of important factors that come into making an important decision like this."
Locking in Wright, who along with Jose Reyes was supposed to lead the Mets to glory for years, and Dickey would go a long way to please a fan base that has become exceedingly frustrated. Reyes left for Miami last offseason and attendance is down for the third straight year at Citi Field.
Both Wright and Dickey said they won't negotiate in the season.
Alderson would not indicate what the payroll would be next year but he acknowledged that how much the team spends does have an effect on fan perception. New York slashed nearly $50 million from their payroll last winter while the club's ownership was being sued by the trustee seeking money for victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. That suit has been settled, but there has been no indication that the team will have more to spend after losing about $70 million in 2011.