Updated Grades for the R.A. Dickey Trade for New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays

Nathan TesslerCorrespondent IMay 1, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  R.A. Dickey #43 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on from the mound during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 28, 2013  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Weeks after R.A. Dickey won the 2012 NL Cy Young award with the New York Mets, he became the prized centerpiece of a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays also received catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. In return, the Mets received high-profile prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard, as well as catcher John Buck and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.

At the time, it seemed that the Mets received a number of promising prospects and a fill-in catcher to help d’Arnaud mature and grow. The Blue Jays received a Cy Young winner and two catchers with experience catching Dickey’s infamous knuckleball pitch.

The trade seemed fairly even at the time, but already a month into the season there have been plenty of surprises for both teams.

Here are the new grades for the blockbuster R.A. Dickey trade:

Stats updated as of May 1, 2013

Toronto Blue Jays

After spending freely this offseason, the 10-17 Blue Jays have plenty of underachieving players. 

Dickey, the main piece of the trade, is certainly one of them.

Right now, Dickey sports a 2-4 record, 4.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and five home runs allowed. In last year’s Cy Young campaign, Dickey averaged a walk per 4.33 innings. In 2013, he's averaging a walk every 2.4 innings. Dickey also had an incredible 4.26 K/BB ratio in 2012, compared to a 1.87 K/BB ratio this year. 

As the numbers indicate, Dickey has had much worse command than he did last year.

Dickey threw over 6.0 innings in 23 of his 33 starts in 2012. This season, he has only done that twice in six starts. In one of those outings, Dickey allowed two home runs in a loss to the New York Yankees.

As for Thole and Nickeas, both players were so offensively challenged that the Blue Jays sent both to Triple-A during spring training, hoping their current catchers could handle Dickey’s knuckleball.

Nickeas is hitting an abysmal .094 in 32 at-bats, while Thole has a promising .379 batting average and 1.006 OPS in 58 at-bats.

Furthermore, the current starting catcher for the Blue Jays, J.P. Arencibia, has already mashed seven doubles and eight home runs in April. His starting job will not be in jeopardy for a while.

Thus, the inclusions of Thole and Nickeas have had absolutely no impact on the Blue Jays so far.

Same goes for Dickey.

Final Analysis 

Dickey’s knuckleball relies on heat and humidity to help get more air pressure and movement on the ball. Therefore, sending him to an indoor stadium in Canada was likely going to cause a drop-off from his 2012 stats. But I don’t think anyone anticipated this kind of struggle.

Nevertheless, Dickey has still been able to give roughly 6.0 innings each game. At this point the Blue Jays overpaid for that much production, but it is still decent production. 

As for Thole and Nickeas, they may never have a big impact on the major league club.

Grade: D+


New York Mets

Through the first month, the production of their return package has been the opposite of what they expected.

D’Arnaud, the crown jewel of the package, was on fire this spring. He proved he is ready for the major league level, but began the season in Triple-A perhaps to delay the beginning of his arbitration clock.

He was hitting .250 in 12 Triple-A games before fracturing his foot on a foul ball. D’Arnaud could miss up to eight weeks.

Based on d’Arnaud’s .429 on-base percentage in those 12 games, the phenom was seeing the ball fine and it was only a matter of time before he picked up hits in bunches. The injury could not have come at a worse time. 

Syndergaard, the then No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, has struggled with his command so far in High-A. He has a dominant 26 strikeouts in 25.0 innings, but also 23 hits and 10 walks allowed.

But the numbers do not tell the whole story.

Without one bad outing, here is Syndergaard’s season: 1-0 record, 22.0 innings pitched, 24 strikeouts, eight walks, 15 hits allowed, zero home runs allowed, 0.81 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Syndergaard also has not allowed an earned run in his two most recent outings, posting a 13/3 K/BB ratio in 13.0 innings. 

He seems to be finding his groove now, and it is only a matter of time until he quickly rises through the minors.

As for Buck, any Mets fan knows the kind of season he is having. Buck was thrown into the package as a fill-in until d’Arnaud is ready to be called up. Instead, he put up one of the best months of any Met, hitting nine home runs and 25 RBI in April. 

He has been a pleasant surprise, and with d’Arnaud’s injury Buck could not have picked a better time to heat up.

Becerra is less known than the other names in this deal. The 18-year-old generated a lot of buzz last season as he signed with the Blue Jays for a huge $1.3 million contract. Unfortunately, his 2012 season ended early as he broke his jaw on a hit by pitch. 

This year, Becerra is healthy and ready to begin the Rookie League season in less than two months. He is a 6’4”, 190-pound athlete with a serious combination of power, plate discipline and speed.

Buck will hold his own until d’Arnaud’s injury heals up fully. By then, d’Arnaud should be ready to make his long-awaited debut. Meanwhile, Syndergaard and Becerra have very high ceilings and should quickly rise through the minors. 

Through the first month of 2013, the Mets have won this trade in a big way.

Final Analysis

The first name that stands out from this trade is clearly Buck. He is overachieving immensely so far, and has already earned a spot as the cleanup hitter in many games this season.

Syndergaard has shown major league-level command in his last two starts, and the Mets certainly hope he can maintain this good run. He seems like the real deal and could make the team in a couple of seasons.

D’Arnaud’s injury is unfortunate, but it should not affect him in the long-term. There is a durability concern since d’Arnaud’s 2012 season was also cut short by injury. But both injuries were freak incidents and should not linger. 

Becerra is bursting with all-around potential, but it will be years until he comes close to a major league roster. 

In the end, the Mets got four talented, major league-caliber players for the price of an underachieving Cy Young winner and two low-ceiling catchers.

Mets fans surely miss Dickey’s magical run of 2012, but so far the return package for him has been outstanding.

Grade: B+


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