By now you’re probably well aware the Mets and Blue Jays are close to finalizing a seven-player deal that will include sending Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey north of the border and top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud to Flushing. I would give you some more updates on the situation, but the truth is, there aren’t any. It’s been a slow moving process because talks between the two sides didn’t heat up until Friday afternoon, right as the work week was coming to an end. So, although it’s moved slower than anyone would like, it definitely seems like it will be coming true. So, at this stage in the game, who will benefit more?
The latest news reports say the Mets will be sending a package of three players to Toronto in exchange for four players. The Jays wanted a catcher in the deal, so it looks like Josh Thole will be headed north with the knuckler, as well as an unidentified minor leaguer. There was plenty of speculation as to who would be included in the package back (outside of Travis d’Arnaud), and it looks like it will be fellow catcher John Buck, top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, and one more minor leaguer. Toronto may throw in some extra cash to off-set Buck’s $6 million salary for 2013, or include another prospect.
What is disappointing to me is that no outfielder is included in this deal, with the Mets also desperately need. There are still some options on the free agent market and Sandy Alderson had been talking with other teams about trades for outfielders that didn’t involved trading Dickey or Jonathon Niese, but I was hoping New York would get everything they need in this blockbuster deal. However, d’Arnaud is one of the top position player prospects in baseball, so that makes me breathe easier.
There have been several teams this winter who inquired about d’Arnaud, but the Jays held their ground with a firm no every time. The Marlins tried to include him in their own blockbuster deal last month, but Alex Anthopoulos would have none of it, and was still able to acquire proven Major League talent, including Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle. Alderson has preferred d’Arnaud all along (I mean, who wouldn’t), but what made Anthopoulos finally cave? The starting pitching market is weak now that Zack Greinke, James Shields, and Anibal Sanchez are not available anymore. This winter’s prices are incredibly high, whether you’re talking about money (Greinke and Sanchez), or trade value (Shields). They desperately want one more top tier pitcher to “put them over the hump” to win right now, and acquiring Dickey at the price he comes with looks like a steal.
So, who will benefit more from this? Both sides are getting something they want and need for next season and beyond, but Buster Olney says people around the league feel the Mets will be the winners here if this deal becomes official. There are unknowns on both ends here; Dickey is presumably a proven commodity at the Major League level, but the pitch he throws is awfully unpredictable. On the flip side, the Mets are getting two of Toronto’s top-five prospects, but no one knows how they will perform in the Big Leagues yet.
The administrator on the New York Mets Fan Forum Facebook page made a good point in a status update yesterday morning that we’re all thinking, but no one dares to say out loud: sometimes, can’t miss prospects do in fact, miss.
Truer words have never been spoken.
Every other major professional sport is remarkably different from baseball because a top draft pick has the opportunity to make an impact immediately, and teams can go from the laughingstock of the league to playoff contenders. A prime example is what Andrew Luck has done with the Indianapolis Colts this season. Last year, the Colts had the worst record in the league, but this year, they’re fighting for a playoff spot. In baseball, it’s normally a few years before a highly touted prospect works his way through the team’s minor league system and makes an impact at the MLB level…if they do at all, that is.
So, it’s tough to gauge the type of production a prospect will give a team in the future and their value because there are so many unknowns in baseball, but if I were Sandy Alderson and I received this trade offer, I’d be crazy if I didn’t take it. You have a 38-year-old knuckleballer that may or may not be around when the team you’re building will legitimately compete, and you have the opportunity to get the best catching prospect in the game to fill a huge void in your roster for years to come, plus a pitching prospect that will likely become the best in the organization once Zack Wheeler gets called to the Majors.
Although the lives of baseball prospects are incredibly unpredictable (look at R.A. Dickey’s career as an example), I think both teams will get what they want out of this deal. The Blue Jays will be getting one last piece they desire to win right now, as they’ve traded four of their top five prospects this winter (if this deal goes through). For the Mets, they get two elite prospects, including a catcher that could be ready to take the starting job in 2013, but if not, he’ll be ready soon, and could be in the Orange and Blue for quite some time.
So, it’s too early to earmark a “winner,” especially when we still don’t know the final prospects included, but even though both teams are giving up a lot, they’re both getting exactly what they wanted in return: difference makers.