R.A. Dickey had earned six-figure salaries or less for his entire career, even forfeiting most of his original signing bonus with the Texas Rangers as a first-round pick because doctors discovered during a routine physical that he was lacking a ligament in his right elbow.
Monday, the Mets announced a deal with Dickey that pays him a $1 million signing bonus, $2.25 million in 2011 and $4.25 million in 2012. There also is a $5 million team option for 2013, with a $300,000 buyout -- guaranteeing Dickey a total of $7.8 million.
Dickey otherwise would have been eligible for free agency next offseason.
Why did Sandy Alderson, who has preached financial flexibility for future seasons, commit to Dickey for 2012 based on one solid year as a Met? And why did Dickey, if he is so confident he's not mastered his knuckleball, settle for that type of deal rather than wait another season and receive a huge payday if he could duplicate his 2010 performance during the upcoming season?
Here are there answers:
"R.A. really had an outstanding season," Alderson said. "I think part of our confidence for the future comes certainly from that platform, if you will. Also I think it comes from our own view as well as opinions of others that the knuckleball is a unique talent and something that can play very well later in a pitcher's career. In this particular case, a year or potentially two years of free agency are involved. So this was an opportune time for us to make a commitment and get something in the way of term in return. Yes, we want to maintain flexibility going into 2012, but our decision-making with respect to next year and so forth we have to begin to consider now. R.A. is one of those guys we felt we could commit to."
Said Dickey: "I've played 14 one-year contracts, none of which have been guaranteed. When the opportunity arose to have some financial security from a family standpoint and also feel like I was treated fairly by not only the New York Mets as an organization but as a city, it made it very easy for me to want to return for more than just next year even. My goal at this point is to be the best bargain in baseball for the next three years. I mean, really. That's my goal. To win championships, you really have to have an altruistic approach. I wasn't out to break the bank from the get-go, and I know that if I want to be part of the solution here -- which I do -- giving some things up so to speak might help the collective good. I was willing to do that for this organization, and still am, and am glad again that I had the opportunity to go down a multi-year contract with these guys because it's a place I feel is a good fit for my style of pitching and for what I think I can accomplish. I am confident about my ability, but a lot of times it has much more to do with other things."