The trade that sends R.A. Dickey to Toronto has been agreed to, and remains all but done. The deal now rests with Toronto’s ability to sign R.A. Dickey to a contract extension by a Tuesday 2p.m. deadline, or a 72- hour window if you will. As reported Saturday afternoon by multiple outlets, Sunday’s tentative deal wound up being a seven player transaction. The Mets will send Dickey, Josh Thole,, and an as yet undetermined minor league player in exchange for catcher Travis d’Arnaud, pitcher Noah Syndergaard, veteran catcher John Buck, and an additional minor league player.
While a deal isn’t a deal until both parties stamp their seal in wax and shake hands, Sandy Alderson apparently landed his man. Moving R.A. Dickey and his 2013 team friendly $5 million dollar salary was contingent on landing a club’s top prospect. In the Mets case, one of the club’s greatest needs was behind the plate. When Toronto joined the ranks of interested parties, the General Manager insisted on Travis d’Arnaud, whom the Blue Jays once deemed unavailable in trades.
Travis d’Arnaud was originally drafted by Philadelphia in the first round (#37) of the 2007 June Amateur Draft and was then acquired by Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade. This past year, he ranked #17 on Baseball America’s pre-2012 prospects list. However, his 2012 season was compromised by a knee injury. In only sixty seven games and 279 at-bats with AAA-Las Vegas, he still batted .333 and sported a .380 OBP. Both marks were career bests in six minor league seasons. He also established new highs by slugging .595, and posting a .975 OPS. He smacked twenty one doubles (93 hits), and sixteen home runs while driving in fifty two runs and scoring another forty five. D’Arnaud struck out a somewhat lofty fifty nine times last season while drawing nineteen walks. At age twenty two with AA-New Hampshire, his 2011 regular season was stopped at 114 games due to a sore back. Moving forward, a possible issue facing the Mets seems not with talent, but in whether Travis d’Arnaud can avoid injury and stay on the field. Otherwise, the Mets are receiving a legitimate high-end prospect at a very difficult position to fill. He bats right, and throws right. In fifty five games played behind the plate last season, d’Arnaud threw out base runners at a 30% clip.
Twenty year old right-hander Noah Syndergaard is an A-level pitching prospect. He was drafted by Toronto in the first round (#37) of the 2010 June Amateur Draft. Last season while pitching with A-Lansing, he posted a 2.60 ERA in 103.1 innings pitched. He finished with an 8-5 record after pitching in twenty seven games and making nineteen starts. He allowed twenty two less hits (81) than innings pitched, and struck out an impressive 122 batters for a 10.6 K’s per nine innings pitched average. He issued thirty three walks, and sported a 1.080 WHiP.
The Mets will receive a second right-handed catcher. Veteran backstop John Buck also comes to the Mets with nine years of service. He has a little pop. With K.C. in 2007, he clubbed eighteen home runs in 347 at-bats. In 2010 with Toronto he hit twenty home runs in 409 at-bats. He is a strikeout machine, but apparently can help drive in a few runs for the Mets.
There is a saying – Haste makes waste. If this deal finally goes through, it is right to give Sandy Alderson’s methodical approach to R.A. Dickey’s contract negotiations the credit it deserves. With Dickey’s $5 million dollar option already picked up for 2013, the Mets held all the cards. They were not necessarily motivated sellers so to say, and quite frankly R.A. Dickey had no leverage. Therefore Sandy Alderson had the luxury of dangling the 2012 N.L. Cy Young award winner and letting interested teams make bids. The Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and L.A. Angels of Anaheim, all showed varying degrees of interest. And it was widely reported a few more undisclosed teams were interested as well. That is until the Blue Jays stepped in. So give credit to Sandy Alderson on this particular, and still potential deal for creating a sellers market.
There is always the possibility prospects do not pan out. But I say nothing ventured, nothing gained. I believe trading R.A. Dickey is/was the right thing to do. Coming off a Cy Young award winning season at age thirty-eight, the time was right to sell high. Omar Minaya signed him to one of those famous minor league contracts hoping for a proverbial flash in the pan. The Mets got one, and more. Last season he was an ace. But the Mets clearly have different plans for their rotation beyond the 2013 season. Therefore I viewed Dickey more as a commodity and an asset pitching for what should still be considered a rebuilding ball club. So I say his value to the club was in trading him, not re-signing him. If I may dare and say the Mets do have a strength, it would be an emerging starting rotation. R.A. Dickey in effect became expendable and his superb 2012 season made him quite desirable. With a hook of $5 million dollars, his 2013 salary made him very attractive. When you have a motivated buyer on your hands with a farm system like the Blue Jays have, you act.
Josh Thole is a favorite of mine. I’ll forever be an apologist for him. What can I say other than, he will be missed. But the position of catcher has arguably been upgraded quite considerably with this trade. If Travis d’Arnaud delivers on his potential and makes the scouts look smart, the Mets have a great story on their hands. That is why I do not begrudge anyone for opposing the decision to trade R.A. Dickey. Who’s story was better than his? Plus, Dickey didn’t necessarily have to go. So for the fans who have a greater affinity for the departed knuckle-baller than yours truly, I’m sorry to see him go too. But this is best for the team and the long term success we strive to achieve.