“Toronto has loved Niese for years,” one source said. “They absolutely would have done that.”
I have been writing for 18 months about Toronto's interest in Niese, so if you read MetsBlog this shouldn't be news to you. Actually, as I mentioned repeatedly that winter, Toronto had interest in swapping d'Arnaud for Niese after 2011, as well, but the deal never materialized, though people close to the Mets were at one point quite confident it would happen.
The way I remember it, the decision between trading Niese or trading Dickey had as much to do with Dickey's contract demands as it did with acquiring Justin Upton and improving the outfield. It sounded to me like if Sandy Alderson felt the team had a better shot to win in 2013, by way of making major upgrades to the outfield, he'd have traded Niese, who Kansas City and others also had interest in, as well. Instead, he moved Dickey, so I'm not sure what that ultimately says...
In either case, I'm glad things worked out the way they did. In hindsight, I think I prefer the left-handed Niese than Dickey on a three-year deal. I feel Niese is a better long-term bet and he fits in better with the type of team and rotation the Mets are trying to build.