Biggest Winners and Losers of the R.A. Dickey Trade Between Mets and Blue Jays

Ian CasselberryMLB Lead WriterDecember 16, 2012

Biggest Winners and Losers of the R.A. Dickey Trade Between Mets and Blue Jays

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    The drama between R.A. Dickey and the New York Mets over a contract extension for the National League Cy Young Award winner has finally reached its end.

    As reported by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Dickey and catcher Josh Thole have been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package including top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, minor league pitcher Noah Syndergaard, catcher John Buck and another prospect yet to be decided upon. 

    Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal has also reported that the Blue Jays and Dickey agreed to a two-year, $25 million extension (pending a physical) that will keep the 20-game winner under contract through the 2015 season. 

    Who are the winners and losers of MLB's latest big trade? Was this a good deal for both sides or did someone end up drawing the short stick?

Winner: New York Mets

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    In the short term, the New York Mets aren't going to be a better team going into the 2013 season without R.A. Dickey in their starting rotation.

    But the Mets also won 74 games last season, finishing fourth in the NL East. So how good were they really, even with Dickey's 20 wins on their roster? 

    This trade will ultimately make the Mets better. The team potentially now has its catcher of the present and future in Travis d'Arnaud, who should be a significant upgrade over Josh Thole. How many teams can say they have a cornerstone player behind the plate?

    And Noah Syndergaard was the Blue Jays' top pitching prospect, according to Baseball America. This year, he compiled a 2.60 ERA in 27 appearances (19 starts) with Single-A Lansing, while striking out 122 batters in 103.2 innings. 

    Though he's likely at least a couple of years away from the majors, Syndergaard could form an impressive young trio for the Mets with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. That should ease the sting of losing out on Anthony Gose, who could have been a nice addition in center field next season. 

    Trading Dickey also eliminates what had already become a major distraction off the field in regard to a contract extension. Dickey had been publicly critical of the negotiations, justifiably looking for fair market value in a new deal.

    But the Mets no longer have to concern themselves with how much to commit to a 38-year-old pitcher that likely already had his career year. 

Loser: R.A. Dickey

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    Given the success he experienced this season, R.A. Dickey was justified in receiving more than the $12.5 million per season he received from Toronto.

    Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award, notched 20 victories, led the National League in strikeouts and innings pitched and finished second in the league in ERA. 

    And for those who say Dickey only had one good year, go take a look at his career numbers.

    In 2010, he finished with a 2.84 ERA in 26 starts, winning 11 games. In 2011, Dickey compiled a 3.28 ERA while throwing 208 innings. This year, mastering the knuckleball made him a strikeout pitcher—one capable of shutting down an opposing lineup. 

    Rather than build around Dickey and David Wright, the Mets instead decided to sell high on their veteran arm, capitalizing on his 2012 success to get the best return possible for a pitcher that was looking increasingly difficult to re-sign.

    Toronto gets the reigning NL Cy Young winner for three years at just $30 million. To put this into perspective, the Royals just spent $25 million on Jeremy Guthrie and the Red Sox $26.5 million on Ryan Dempster.

    Age may be a bigger concern for Dickey, but to receive a smaller extension than Dempster earned for a 5.09 ERA in Texas is a slap in the face.

    Throw in a slight of Dickey’s persona claiming that he was “appreciated but far from beloved” by his Mets teammates, and an otherwise nice guy was placed in a negative light throughout this negotiation process.

    Dickey is on a contender and he got the security he was looking for, but he can hardly be considered a winner when looking at things from a wider scope.

Winner: Toronto Blue Jays

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    The Toronto Blue Jays were desperate for starting pitching this past season. 

    Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison suffered season-ending injuries that required Tommy John surgery. Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch never saw the field and also required surgery. Brandon Morrow missed two months due to an oblique injury. 

    With his recent acquisitions, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has done his best to ensure that the pitching staff has enough depth to cover injuries that might occur. Though it's cost Toronto dearly in terms of prospects, he has also upgraded the talent level of his rotation significantly.

    Dickey and Josh Johnson give the Blue Jays two ace-level starters at the top of the rotation. Morrow has No. 1 pitcher talent, but can now work from the middle of the rotation. Mark Buehrle will give the staff 200 innings at the back end of the rotation. And now, Toronto can let Ricky Romero and J.A. Happ compete for the No. 5 spot.

    If Romero turns himself around from an awful 2012 season, the Blue Jays might have the best fifth starter in MLB. 

    Couple that with a lineup that added Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to a lineup already featuring Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the middle, and Toronto is taking on the look of an AL East powerhouse. 

Loser: J.P. Arencibia

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    J.P. Arencibia allowed 31 wild pitches and nine passed balls this season as the Blue Jays catcher, throwing out 29 percent (22-for-55) of opposing base-stealers.

    Considering he played approximately 30 fewer games and roughly 300 fewer innings than a top starting MLB catcher, those numbers weren't great. 

    Now, Arencibia could be catching R.A. Dickey's knuckleball, a pitch that can float and dart in unpredictable directions. If he wasn't particularly good at blocking pitches before, he's only going to have a more difficult time next season. 

    Could this affect Arenicibia at the plate? If he becomes preoccupied with catching Dickey's pitches, his .233 batting average and .710 OPS could take a further dip in 2013. And with Toronto trading d'Arnaud, John Buck and Jeff Mathis this winter, there aren't any better options behind the plate.

    Fortunately for Arencibia, Josh Thole will likely become Dickey's designated catcher. He caught 185.1 of Dickey's innings last season; overall, he allowed 18 wild pitches and 18 passed balls, nabbing 23 percent of opposing baserunners. But catching the knuckleball surely adversely affected those numbers.

Winner: Travis d'Arnaud

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    Travis d'Arnaud was seemingly blocked in Toronto by J.P. Arencibia and John Buck. That sentence seems rather silly, given d'Arnaud's potential to be a franchise catcher.

    But he now has the opportunity to realize that potential with the New York Mets, a team that desperately needs a starting catcher. B/R's MLB prospects lead writer Michael Rosenbaum pegged d'Arnaud as someone who could be the next Mike Piazza. Mets fans would certainly love that. 

    This year, Josh Thole batted. 234 with a .584 OPS. He allowed 18 passed balls and 18 wild pitches in 90 games behind the plate. 

    While d'Arnaud, 23, could struggle as he acclimates himself to major league competition, his skill set indicates he'll give the Mets far more offensive production at the position than they've received in recent seasons.

    After tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in late June, d'Arnaud was limited to 67 games with Triple-A Las Vegas. He finished the season with a .333 batting average, .975 OPS, 16 home runs and 52 RBI. 

    If there was concern about the condition of d'Arnaud's knee, the Mets likely wouldn't have accepted him as the centerpiece of the deal. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan reports the team looked over d'Arnaud's medical information and deemed him fine. 

    Offensive numbers can be inflated in Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League with smaller ballparks, but d'Arnaud's statistics show he can hit and supply some power at catcher. 

Loser: Texas Rangers

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    At this point, it sort of feels like we're picking on the Texas Rangers.

    Virtually every big signing or trade that's occurred this offseason is noted for being something that the Rangers and general manager Jon Daniels didn't get done.

    Zack Greinke signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. James Shields was traded to the Kansas City Royals. The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired a young shortstop and no longer have the need to trade Justin Upton. And, of course, Josh Hamilton spurned the Rangers for the Los Angeles Angels, an AL West rival.

    Now R.A. Dickey can be added to the list of Daniels' offseason strikeouts. The Rangers have been seeking a No. 1 starter for their rotation, and Greinke or Shields would have filled that role nicely. It was believed that Texas was looking at Dickey next. 

    Getting Dickey also would have taken his personal story full circle, as Texas is the team that suggested he become a knuckleballer and move his career along a different path. Returning to the Rangers, with whom his major league career appeared to be finished, to be their ace would have been compelling.

    Whatever Daniels' offseason plans were, they obviously need to be shifted now. Perhaps the Rangers will seek to improve the back end of their rotation with depth. A power-hitting outfielder or first baseman is still a need, and catcher could be upgraded as well.

    There is still plenty of time for Daniels to salvage the Rangers' offseason. But the players that will allow him to do so are quickly being snatched up by other teams. 

     

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