R.A. Dickey may well be "the most compelling player" on the 2010 Mets (so says Ken Belson of the New York Times), and it's hard to argue that the knuckleballer has been the most surprising. Signed for a $600K minor league contract last winter, Dickey has emerged as an unlikely stalwart of New York's rotation. Dickey has a 2.41 ERA and 2.48 K/BB ratio in 18 starts this season, quite the far cry from the 5.43 ERA that the 35-year-old posted over his first seven major league seasons.
Though Dickey is working on a one-year contract, he will still be under the Mets' control since he hasn't accrued enough major league service time to qualify for free agency. As Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com points out, Dickey has another year of arbitration before reaching free agency after 2011. Dickey is sure to earn a hefty raise from an arbiter, but Cerrone speculates that the veteran might be willing to forego a one-year pay boost in exchange for signing a new two-year deal with New York.
Even if Dickey keeps up his solid pitching for the rest of the season, his unimpressive past numbers and age will keep other teams from offering him anything but a one-year, incentive-laden contract in the winter should the Mets non-tender him. Letting Dickey walk doesn't make much sense, so it seems much more likely that New York will bring Dickey back at a reasonable price — say, a two-year deal worth between $3-$4MM in total, plus bonuses in case Dickey keeps up his success.
Given that Dickey only converted to the knuckleball around five years ago, his recent success may not be quite as big an outlier as it seems, but rather a sign that Dickey is mastering the art of the knuckler. Bringing back Dickey seems like a logical move for the Mets, plus it couldn't hurt to bring back a popular player who is "a center of the clubhouse" according to Belson.