Niese was younger and cheaper, under control at a reasonable cost for six more seasons, including the option years on his contract. That made him valuable to the Mets, but other teams as well, and some within the organization believe he could have been traded for a package of highly acclaimed prospects similar to what GM Sandy Alderson got for Dickey.
Outside the organization that sentiment isn’t necessarily shared. “Our scouts like Niese a lot,” said an AL GM on Wednesday, “but I wouldn’t have given up as much as Toronto did for Dickey. They took a shot because they believe in Dickey as a No. 1 starter who can put them over the top. As much as I like Niese, I think his ceiling is probably more of a No. 2-type. He’s not there yet, but he’s got the stuff that makes you think he can get there.
The Mets would be thrilled if Niese raises his game to that level, especially since, in Harvey and Zack Wheeler, they believe their have their No. 1 and 1A for years to come. As it is, Niese should be a nice complement to those two hard-throwing righthanders. He’ll be the only lefty in the mix after Santana is gone, and he has already shown the capability to dominate when he’s got his best stuff. He took a step toward that next level in 2012, lowering his ERA by a run to 3.40 while throwing a career-high 190 innings, to go with a 13-9 record.