|Travis d'Arnaud could wind up with the Mets if R.A. Dickey agrees to an extension with the Blue Jays. (US Presswire)|
Winners and losers in the R.A. Dickey trade? Nah, let's try winners and winners.
The deal, which is all but finalized, would have Dickey, Josh Thole and a "non-premium" prospect going to Toronto, while the Blue Jays would send the Mets their top two prospects -- catcher Travis d'Arnaud and right-hander Noah Syndergaard -- along with Josh Buck and a "non-premium" prospect.
Why this is a win for the Blue Jays
Let's start here -- last year the Blue Jays' rotation on opening day was Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Joel Carreno, Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek. The projected rotation for 2013 is now Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Morrow and Romero. Last year's opening-day starter is now the fifth man in the rotation.
The Royals made a similar move, giving up their top position prospect (Wil Myers) and pitching prospect (Jake Odorizzi) for a top-of-the-rotation starter in James Shields. Kansas City was widely criticized (also cheered by some), but the difference between the Royals, who were 72-90 last season, and the Blue Jays (73-89 in 2012) is that the Royals' trade was the team's biggest move of the offseason.
The Blue Jays are working on an extension with Dickey, and if it's for two years as he's requested from the Mets, that puts him under the Blue Jays' control through 2015. Buehrle is also under contract through 2015, while Jose Bautiste and Edwin Encarnacion are under control (with club options) through 2016. Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie are under team control through 2017. The Blue Jays are not only planning on winning now, but maximizing their window in the NL East as the Yankees get older and the Red Sox rebuild.
As for criticisms of Dickey, yes, there's a chance he struggles in his transition to the American League, but it's equally believable American League hitters struggle against his unique pitch. And yes, he's 38, but as Dayn Perry pointed out, Dickey's not a typical 38-year-old. And for the people who say he's a one-year wonder, you may want to look at his last three seasons (39-28, 2.95 ERA).
And how about this nugget? The player with the highest salary for 2013 in the deal isn't Dickey ($5 million), it's Buck ($6 million).
If the Blue Jays don't win in 2013, it won't be for lack of effort. This team, on paper, is not only better, but at this point is the favorite in the American League East, something you haven't been able to say about the team in a long, long time
Why this is a win for the Mets
The Blue Jays are now set to contend in 2013 -- even with Dickey, you could not say the same for the Mets, especially in a division already populated with the Nationals, Braves and Phillies.
For some reason, the Mets didn't believe Dickey was worth a two-year extension for a total of $26 million -- or $31 million total over the next three seasons. (Remember here that it cost the Royals $25 million for three years and the Red Sox paid Ryan Dempster to a two-year, $26.5 million deal.) If we take that as something that was already decided, it's likely Dickey would test the free agent waters in a year anyway. If the Mets are looking at treading water for a year and then losing a Cy Young winner, why not get something in return?
Dickey will be just the fourth Cy Young Award winner to be traded the following season, joining David Cone, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. It's a pretty good bet that the Mets are selling high -- because it's going to be tough for Dickey to top his amazing 2012.
What the Mets get in return is a catcher of the future, a catcher for the interim (John Buck) and yet another high-upside arm in Syndergaard.
A 20-year-old right-hander, Syndergaard was the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, behind d'Arnaud and outfielder Jake Marisnick, who was part of the deal with the Marlins. The 6-foot-5 Texan was 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA in 27 appearances and 19 starts at low-Class A Lansing last season, so he's not going to be in New York anytime soon. But when (and he's still a prospect, so you have to add if here) Syndergaard at some point could join Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey in the rotation.
D'Arnaud is a potential All-Star catcher, who hit .333/.380/.595 at Triple-A Las Vegas last season. While Las Vegas inflates the offensive numbers of players there, he has hit .286/.343/.474 in the minors and is seen as a high-level prospect. Unlike Syndergaard, he should be ready to play in the majors sometime this season, if not opening day.
One thing is clear in this trade -- the Mets didn't value Dickey as an asset for the next three years. New York has recorded four straight losing seasons and it will take more than a quick fix to end the streak. Toronto, on the other hand, hasn't reached the playoffs since 1993 and it sees a chance to get there not just in 2013 but for the next couple of years.
Is there a true winner here? Maybe there's one, maybe there's two -- and like most trades, we won't know for years. But as of right now, both can claim victory and do so for good reason.