Should the Mets take Mike Olt for R.A. Dickey?

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Rangers might miss out on Zack Greinke, and the scuttlebutt has them offering Mike Olt for the reigning Cy Young winner. Is that a deal the Mets have to take?

David Wright will be on the Mets until the days of hovercars and robot presidents. The mammoth extension for Wright is a deal the Mets almost had to make, even if they're well aware it's going to be a mess at the end. The team is trying to reclaim the trust of their fans after the financial misery and losing seasons. That means holding onto at least one of the homegrown superstars the fans are attached to.

But R.A. Dickey is another matter. He's a fan favorite, sure, but he's also 38. Mets fans have already come to terms with the idea that he's not going to be around forever. There's a decent chance that he won't be around for the next good Mets team. Trading him would be painful but logical, especially if he can bring back the next cornerstones of the team.

That doesn't mean it's something that needs to happen, though. I've already written that the Mets should be overwhelmed if they're going to trade Dickey. It would be a shame if the Mets did what the Twins did with Santana, trading away their best pitcher for Cecil Espy rookie cards and barely missing the playoffs the very next season. And laugh if you want, but with the pitching the Mets might have (with a healthy Johan Santana and the ascension of Matt Harvey and/or Zack Wheeler), they aren't going to need to score 800 runs to be interesting.

So the key word is "overwhelmed." They should get a spit-take return if they move him. If the Royals gave in and offered Wil Myers, that would qualify, for example. It should be a deal the Mets absolutely have to take.

This is a rumor:

And it's a good rumor. Olt is a highly regarded prospect -- he was ranked No. 43 in baseball by Baseball America before the season started, and he improved dramatically while advancing a level. Scouts love him, stats love him, and he could allow Mets fans to make the best Arrested Development references they possibly can until the Mets sign a prospect named Jorge Banañastan.

But is it a deal the Mets have to make if it's offered? While I think Olt is a fine prospect, and the Mets would do well to acquire him, let me play the contrarian for a bit:

  • Olt's kinda old for a prospect. He turned 24 in August, and he spent most of the year in Double-A. That's about the average age for the Texas League, but usually top prospects are a little ahead of the age curve.
  • His contact rate in Double-A last year was 73 percent -- only 15 qualified hitters were worse than that in the majors. We're talking guys like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds, and Carlos Pena. Dan Uggla, Chris Davis, and Alfonso Soriano. You get the idea. Olt made contact like Drew Stubbs, but in Double-A
  • He plays third base, where the Mets are set until the days of robot cars and hover-presidents

If you look at just about any prospect, you can start to see warts. But I think I feel comfortable suggesting this wouldn't be a deal the Mets had to take. It would be a fair return for a year of Dickey, certainly.

But it's not the kind of deal the Mets need to take because they just don't have a choice. There are enough warts on Olt to justify passing on him. A brief history of the No. 43 prospects in baseball:

1990 - Donald Harris
1991 - Kiki Jones
1992 - Mike Neill
1993 - Marc Newfield
1994 - Preston Wilson
1995 - Trey Beamon
1996 - Alex Ochoa
1997 - Felix Heredia
1998 - Carlos Lee
1999 - Mitch Melusky
2000 - Wes Anderson
2001 - Aubrey Huff
2002 - John Buck
2003 - Dontrelle Willis
2004 - Joe Blanton
2005 - Dan Meyer
2006 - Neil Walker
2007 - Joey Votto
2008 - Josh Vitters
2009 - J.P. Arencibia
2010 - Todd Frazier
2011 - Dellin Betances

That's about right. A prospect around Olt's ranking has about a five-percent chance of being a superstar, a 25-percent chance of being an All-Star/quality starter one day, a 50-percent chance of making some sort of positive contribution, and a five-percent chance of making quirky independent movies that are quirky and adorable and quirky. Should the Mets acquire as many of those raffle tickets as possible? Of course.

Should they trade their best pitcher, and one of the best pitchers in the National League for one of those tickets? Gonna say nope. It's not the spit-take deal. That's what should make the Mets not want to sign Dickey to an extension and keep him around for the next good Mets team.

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