I understand the point, but isn't Niese a part of that uncertainty? A player's value cannot solely be determined by the flexibility in his contract, or what he might be capable of doing. Regardless of what a player is earning, his value and his ability to maximize those dollars is determined by what he does on the field.
In the case of Niese, he showed some growth early in 2011, as he began to refine his off-speed pitches. He also showed some increased velocity on his fastball from the prior year. However, he's had a combination of physical and mental breakdowns that have ended the last three seasons prematurely. And so, the flexibility in a player's contract is valuable only if a he can remain healthy and contribute at a high level on the field.
For instance, Ike Davis has shown he can be a top-caliber middle-of-the-order bat so far in his young career. Keeping Davis under control for a long period of time provides tremendous value for the Mets, considering he is capable of producing at a value much higher than he is currently earning. However, that value only exists if he's healthy and producing those numbers at the major league level. Otherwise, his position on the roster becomes a hole regardless of the amount of money he is earning.
It's not to say Niese can't grow out of these problems. He's still young and the raw skill is there for him to be a solid major league pitcher, and maybe someday, develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. But like I always say, it's the players which either make a team good or bad, and part of what makes a player good or bad is his ability to stay physically and mentally healthy. At some point soon, the Mets have to get better from top to bottom, and it's not as if Niese has greatly outperformed the dollars he's earned. Given the concerns with Niese, the Mets owe it to themselves to explore his value outside the organization, attempt to find a better value for their roster, and see if they can stabilize other parts of their organization (or improve their starting pitching) in the process. I am sure other teams are well aware of the baggage which might come with Niese, and the value in a package might reflect that.
Last Tuesday at the Mets holiday party, Sandy Alderson said Niese is in his plans for next year. Alderson acknowledged that he will listen to offers for any player, but, “at this point that’s all it is, is talk,” while adding, “I wouldn’t say that it’s even been significant conversations.”