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Mets mull over idea of Dickey returning without deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the second time in three weeks Wednesday, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said he would gladly accept a scenario that general manager Sandy Alderson called "not preferable": playing out next season with R.A. Dickey on an expiring contract.

Three weeks ago in New York, Wilpon said that bringing Dickey back on his $5 million 2013 contract was his second choice, behind signing him to a contract extension. Trading Dickey was third.

Alderson later seemed to contradict that with his actions, actively engaging more than a half-dozen clubs in trade talks at the Winter Meetings. But with the Mets and Dickey still far apart in talks, Wilpon reiterated Wednesday that he would rather bring Dickey back on his current contract than trade him.

"It's a negotiation," the COO said after a news conference to announce David Wright's extension. "They want more than we're willing to give right now. We want to do it for less than they want to accept right now. Somewhere in between, there's probably a deal to be done. If not, he'll be a great bargain at $5 million playing out next season for us."

That thought process may not jibe with Dickey, who has made it clear that he does not want to enter next season on an expiring contract, nor negotiate during the summer. In other words, Dickey either wants a trade or an extension by the start of Spring Training -- but because he remains under contract, he has no grounds on which to demand either.

And both fronts appear to be moving slowly. Dickey stopped into the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center for the second time Wednesday but did not negotiate with Mets officials. Alderson, meanwhile, continued to field offers on his Cy Young pitcher, waiting for someone to dangle an impact player in return.

Until something -- the Mets, Dickey and his agent, other clubs -- gives, nothing will change. Knowing that, Wilpon has taken a softer stance than the other parties involved.

"Obviously being here in this environment, the trade stuff seems to heat up," Wilpon said. "But until Sandy gets what he feels is appropriate value for [Dickey's] contract and what he would do, I don't think he's pulling the trigger on a trade."

That said, multiple sources close to the situation still see a trade as a viable option, if not the most likely one. One team insider said the organization was even making contingency plans in the event that Dickey is traded, indicating that Jenrry Mejia -- not top prospect Zack Wheeler -- would enter the rotation.

But for now, speculation reigns. When asked if he might leave these Winter Meetings with any new players, Alderson quipped that he'll leave "with David Wright." The Mets still need a right-handed-hitting outfielder and catcher, at least one bullpen arm and more depth for their bench.

But thoughts of Dickey remained front and center, even as Wright dominated story lines for a day. The sticking point in negotiations has been money, with Dickey seeking close to $30 million over two years and the Mets looking to pay closer to $20 million. Either side could choose to bridge that gap and complete a deal immediately, but neither side has blinked quite yet.

That is why the Mets continue to monitor trades, while their COO continues to talk about bringing Dickey back on his current deal.

"That has always been an option," Alderson said. "I don't think it's more of a likelihood today than it was yesterday. But it certainly is an option, not preferable from our standpoint. But at some stage, we'll have to weigh Option A, Option B and Option C and make a judgment. And it may turn out at that time that the one-year option is most viable for us."

New York Mets, R.A. Dickey