- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- New York Mets general manger Sandy Alderson doesn't intend to let his stars walk again.
The team's premier bat and best pitcher both have club options for the 2013 season. Both are expected to be picked up as extensions are pursued.
"I fully expect that David Wright and R.A. Dickey will be here not only next year, but long term," Alderson said during a question-and-answers session with season-ticket holders before the Mets faced the Astros on Sunday. "As you all know, we have options on both those players and it's not our intention to simply rely on those options and go into next season and deal with their free agency after 2013. We're going to deal with it up front while we still have a little bit of room to maneuver.
"But we're committed to trying to bring those two back. I hope they'll both be back and I'm excited about the possibilities they will be."
The last time the Mets were faced with the challenge of keeping a superstar home or paying top dollar, they elected to allow beloved shortstop Jose Reyes to leave for Miami this past winter. Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million deal, which created an uproar with some fans who could not believe the team let a homegrown talent leave.
Wright is another homegrown talent who is having perhaps the finest year of his career. He entered Sunday hitting .317 with a .411 on-base percentage, 17 homers and 76 RBIs in what is the final year of a six-year, $55 million deal. The third baseman has tabled discussions about a contract extension until the offseason.
Wright said following the team's 2-1 win Sunday that winning will be a big factor in his decision, but reiterated he's not concerned right now with his future contract. He'd like to hear the team's plan moving forward and said he's happy with his current deal.
The third baseman didn't talk up the benefits of potentially denying a contract extension to become a free agent.
"I think if you're talking a leverage standpoint obviously the best leverage you can have is to become a free agent. I'm not necessarily looking for leverage, I'm not necessarily looking for every last penny I can make in this game," Wright said. "There's going to be a lot of important factors that come into making an important decision like this, and like I said that's going to be something that I sit down after the season and really think about it. It's going to be a very important decision and an important time in my career. That will all happen after the season is over.
"I know that the ball is in the team's court and they have control over me for next year. It's the truth when I say I haven't really thought about it much and I'm not really sure what the next step is. I don't really know when or what's going to happen, when it's going to happen or if it's going to happen. We'll figure it out when the time's right."
Dickey, whose career has flourished with the Mets, expressed desire Sunday to stay. He has told Alderson that he enjoys playing in New York and wants to be a part of the Mets' turnaround. Dickey is tied for the major-league lead in wins (16) and NL lead in strikeouts (183). He was selected for the All-Star Game and is 16-4 with a 2.76 ERA.
Dickey added that he probably wouldn't talk about a contract extension during next season, preferring to negotiate during the offseason. Dickey said he and the team had preliminary discussions in spring training and the earlier months about a deal, and he believes they should pick up at season's end.
"I love it here. I've always voiced that and a part of me enjoys being loyal to an organization that's given me a shot," he said. "I connect well with the fan base, (the media) has always been good. I'm comfortable here and that says a lot for me where I am in my career. I do want to win, too, because I am at that place I am in my career and I want to be a part of that solution here, whatever that's going to be. I'd like to know what direction we are going. I think that's fair and make decisions accordingly. I'm open to talking about whatever they would like."
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.' "
While the Mets try to keep their top players with the team, the question will be whether they can afford to lock up both. The Mets' payroll dropped by approximately $50 million this season to about $100 million. While Alderson said Sunday's he's hopeful the payroll will increase, or at least stay the same, he's not sure at the moment what he will be operating with in 2013.
"I have not talked to Fred (Wilpon) or anyone else about where that payroll is going to be, but I'm hopeful we'll be in the same range, if not somewhat higher," Alderson said. "But I can't confirm that at this point. What I look at is what our needs are and how we fill those needs, and there's no question that being able to add to the payroll is an important part of being able to address those. So is the willingness to make trades, trade prospects, bring players in from outside, so lots of things to take into account.
"I wish I could tell you exactly where we're going to be. You can probably sense where my sentiments would be. It's something we have to address, various scenarios. We'll see exactly where we land. It's an important point, an important question, and I wish I could give you a better answer at this point, but I expect to be able to give you a better answer in the next few weeks -- well before I have to spend it, anyway."
Matt Ehalt is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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