NEW YORK -- Following a storybook three-year run in New York, R.A. Dickey appears to be entering his final hours with the Mets. The club is in talks to trade the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, according to multiple people involved in the negotiations, and could strike a deal as soon as Saturday. The Blue Jays are reportedly the front runners for his services.
Those participating in the talks said on Friday evening that nothing is imminent, and multiple reports on Saturday morning indicated that the deal may expand to include more than just Dickey and Jays catcher Travis d'Arnaud -- who is widely expected to be its centerpiece.
The Blue Jays, who possess expendable catching and outfield depth, have long been considered natural trade partners for the Mets. Some combination of d'Arnaud or J.P. Arencibia, in addition to outfielder Anthony Gose, could net them Dickey. d'Arnaud and Gose would both be under team control for another six seasons, as opposed to the 38-year-old Dickey, who can become a free agent after 2013.
"There is something attractive to a guy that you can control for a few years and he can help you now," a Mets source said earlier this week.
MLB.com reported Friday afternoon that the Rangers, long considered serious suitors for Dickey, are no longer in the running. And despite rampant speculation that Josh Hamilton's arrival in Orange County could prompt the Angels to deal some of their own outfield surplus, a deal with the Halos also never materialized.
From the outset of trade talks, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has sought what he called "a difference-maker" in any trade involving Dickey.
"We're looking for more of a premium-type guy in exchange for the Cy Young [winner]," one team insider said upon the Hamilton signing.
That "difference-maker" may well be d'Arnaud, who hit .333 with 16 homers in 67 games last season at Triple-A Las Vegas, before a ligament tear in his left knee ended his campaign. Though the Blue Jays possess another top catcher in Arencibia, the latter's .275 career on-base percentage might spook the Mets. Either backstop would be an offensive upgrade over the incumbent Josh Thole, who struggled at the plate in 2012.
Gose, 22, is an elite defensive center fielder who struggled offensively upon his big league debut. But he did finish 2012 on a .265 run -- with four doubles, two triples, one home run and five stolen bases in 27 games. If acquired, Gose could supplant Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the Mets' Opening Day center fielder.
Any deal may be contingent upon Dickey inking a contract extension with his new club. The knuckleballer has been seeking a two-year, $26 million deal from the Mets on top of his $5 million option for 2013, but talks reportedly stalled in recent days as the trade market warmed.
"You want what you think is fair, and ... I feel like we're asking for less than what's fair," Dickey said Tuesday at the Mets' holiday party. "There is a surprise sometimes when things don't get done quickly and you already think that you're extending the olive branch."
Aside from their Dickey conversations, the Mets are looking hard at free-agent outfielders and relievers, and could make a move soon -- perhaps even before the end of the year.
Until they do, the roster will remain largely unchanged from last season, with more subtractions than additions. Non-tendered outfielder Andres Torres agreed to a new deal with the Giants on Thursday, leaving the Mets looking at Nieuwenhuis as their tentative starting center fielder. Fellow non-tendered free agent Manny Acosta signed on to join a bullpen in Japan.
With those two the latest to fly out of a shrinking free-agent pool, roster upgrades are becoming harder to find. Alderson cautioned earlier this week that even once the Mets do make some moves, the Opening Day roster should ultimately "look similar to the way it did at the end of last year."
For now, the Mets' only offseason transactions have been extending third baseman David Wright (who was already under contract for next season), trading for utility infielder Brandon Hicks and signing a handful of Minor League free agents.
With tongue in cheek, Mets aide Paul DePodesta noted on Twitter last month that Dickey "was once a Minor League free agent," as well.