The Seattle Mariners offered R.A. Dickey potentially better money than any other team in 2009, but the greater opportunity to pitch in the big leagues was more important.
That’s why Dickey, the knuckleball pitcher who spent most of this year with the Mariners, decided today to sign with the Minnesota Twins.
Dickey agreed to a split minor-major league contract — meaning he’ll get one level of pay while he’s in the major leagues, another for the time he’d be in the minors — which is little different than what the Mariners offered. The Twins, however, seemed more certain that he would fill an important role on their team.
“Seattle could have been more money, but the Twins felt like I could have a place on their roster right away,” Dickey said.
He also had an offer from the New York Mets, along with significant interest from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Twins, however, have openings in their bullpen and pursued Dickey almost from the time the Mariners made him a free agent early this month by not offering arbitration. The Mariners, whose bullpen also is unsettled, couldn’t be so sure about his chances to make the team.
“It’s not that there wasn’t opportunity in Seattle,” Dickey said. “But I feel like there’s more opportunity in Minnesota for me, which is all based on the way they pursued me and how hard they pursued me. They were very forthright about where they thought I would fit in.”
Dickey would have been a nice piece in the Mariners’ pen. He went 5-8 with a 5.21 ERA this year, but was 2-0, 2.00 in 18 relief appearances. The Twins were more smitten by those numbers than the Mariners and apparently more sure about Dickey’s place on their team.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said there’s of time to sort through the options for long relief, along with other spots in the bullpen. He, new manager Don Wakamatsu and the coaches still need to meet and discuss the makeup of the roster.
“As I said to (Dickey), until Don and I and his staff get together and discuss this thing in detail, there are a lot of options,” Zduriencik said. “Him coming on board would have been another option.
“We’d like to have had him back and it would have been nice to give him a chance to compete for a position on the club. If that didn’t work out, then he would head to Triple-A as a guy who could come up.”