It has been a rough couple of years, but the New York Mets are finally heading in the right direction.
This seems odd considering the team will head into next season without a player that just won the Cy Young award, but the future of the organization is sound.
ESPN's Adam Rubin reported that the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays along with catcher Josh Thole. As a return, New York gets prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, as well as catcher John Buck.
In the short term, this will hurt the Mets. The squad that lost 88 games a year ago is now worse, but it does not mean the fans should riot.
First, the players returned in the deal have a lot of upside. Syndergaard is young but already looks like an extremely talented pitcher. Additionally, d'Arnaud could possibly be the regular catcher by midseason and be there for a long time.
However, it is more important to dissect the message that the front office sent during the last few weeks.
Dickey has been a great pitcher for the past three years with the organization, but he is at the peak of his value. The long-term extension that he wanted simply did not fit into New York's plans.
The front office decided it was better to turn Dickey's value into something better, rather than risk a lot of money on a player who could be headed for a steep decline.
In the past, the team's strategy was simply to throw money at the best player available and sign him to a long-term deal. Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and Francisco Rodriguez all were signed to big contracts after career years.
All of them ended up as disappointments and were sent packing before the end of their deals. More than anything else (including Bernie Madoff), this is what handcuffed the team's payroll.
General manager Sandy Alderson wants more flexibility, and the Dickey trade allows that.
The move can also be looked at in a different way thanks to last month's extension for David Wright. By giving the third basemen $138 million over eight years (via USA Today), it proved that money is not the only driving factor behind decisions.
Re-signing Wright also puts fans at ease that a familiar face will be on the field for a long time.
On the other hand, Alderson also did not let the threat of short-term issues like ticket sales get in the way of building a winning team. That factor likely hindered past moves that could have been productive.
A well-functioning organization always tries to put the best team on the field while also keeping an eye on the future. After years of simply ignoring problems until they got out of hand, the Mets are doing things necessary to win in the future.
Trading Dickey will anger some fans, but it will be one of the smartest moves the team ever makes.
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