NEW YORK -- Frustrations are beginning to bubble over for R.A. Dickey, who expressed "disappointment" Tuesday that he and the Mets have yet to strike a contract agreement, while indicating he is unlikely to return to the Mets in 2014 if they bring him back next year without a new deal.
"You want what you think is fair, and ... I feel like we're asking for less than what's fair," Dickey said at a Citi Field holiday party to benefit Far Rockaway, Queens, schoolchildren. "There is a surprise sometimes when things don't get done quickly and you already think that you're extending the olive branch.
"At the same time, they have a budget they have to adhere to and that's part of it, too. I don't know those numbers, and I try not to take it personally."
Reports Tuesday indicated that the Mets were in the process of increasing their offer to two years and $20 million, on top of the $5 million they already owe Dickey for next season. Dickey's camp has made it clear that the knuckleballer seeks closer to $30 million total.
"We're in a similar place today that we were last week," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "Some of the surrounding circumstances have changed somewhat, so I would hope that we'll have more clarity within a few days. But in the meantime, we're more or less status quo."
The most obvious surrounding circumstance involves a starting-pitching market exploding around them. Zack Greinke recently finalized a six-year, $147 million contract with the Dodgers, while the Royals parted with a top-flight prospect package for James Shields. Dan Haren inked a one-year deal with the Nationals worth $13 million, the Angels gave Joe Blanton $15 million over two years and Jeremy Guthrie negotiated $25 million over three years from the Royals.
Dickey, the National League Cy Young Award winner who has outperformed all of those pitchers over the past three years -- most by wide margins -- is seeking fewer dollars annually than any of them. That is why he is miffed at the pace of negotiations.
"Things are emotional for me," Dickey said. "I think when people say, 'It's business; it's not personal,' well, that just means it's not personal for them. It can be personal for me. I'm hoping that it's going to end up in a good place, but you can't help but think in the back of your mind that it may not. And that's sad."
Alderson and his lieutenants spent much of their time last week at the Winter Meetings fielding trade offers for Dickey, who commanded interest from at least a half-dozen teams. Those who did not land Greinke, Shields or any of this year's other top available pitchers -- the Rangers and Blue Jays, for example -- may soon increase their aggressiveness in pursuit of the knuckleballer.
The Mets could also forego a trade or extension completely, and simply bring their ace back on his $5 million option for next season. But Dickey said Tuesday that doing so would essentially place a ticking clock on his time in Flushing, destroying goodwill between the two sides.
"It would be unfortunate, because it probably is going to mean I'm not going to be back," Dickey said. "And that would be sad."
Alderson, for his part, said he expects a resolution "relatively soon," though he "wouldn't try to handicap anything at this point."
"There has been a little bit of a disappointment for me because of the pace, but that's not a comment on anybody except for my patience," Dickey said. "I want some closure to this so we can move on and see what's next. But that's not the nature of what's going on here, and I've got to understand that. Negotiations are not going to happen based on my emotional scope."
For now, Dickey said, he will continue to wait and see how talks unfold. His first choice remains a long-term extension with the Mets, the organization that gave him his most significant break as a professional.
"That's not the company line -- I really feel a real connection to this place," Dickey said. "But at the same time, you don't want to be taken advantage of."