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Archive for December 16th, 2012

Dickey Trade: Are the Mets Raiding the Jays Cupboard?

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I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about the Jays minor league ties. I know who Travis d’Arnaud is (even drafted him in a keeper league last spring) and I’m a fan of Moises Sierra, but once I get any deeper than them, I’m hopelessly out of my element. This is why I’m not sure how to parse the proposed trade for RA Dickey.

The trade as it stands rumoured: Toronto gets Dickey, the NY Mets get d’Arnaud and pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. Dickey is coming off a 20-win, 2.73 ERA, Cy Young-winning season. He posted career bests in ERA, WHIP (1.053) and K/BB (4.26). He’ll be a free agent next year and while his value has never been higher, he’ll cost the Jays just $5 million in salary next year. By any stretch, he’s a bargain.

But to get him, Toronto has to trade two of its most highly touted prospects. D’Arnaud has long been called their catcher of the future and their best prospect. Coming in just behind him on the Baseball America rankings is Syndergaard, not only their highest-rated pitching prospect, but a projected number-one starter in a few seasons time. Last season, pitching in AA  A-level Lansing, Syndergaard went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.080 WHIP. He was one of the team’s best pitchers.

The question then looks something like this: is it worth getting a top-flight pitcher, just coming into his own, for two highly rated prospects. On a macro level, it seems a fair enough trade to me: the 2013 Jays rotation is formable (Ricky Romero, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Dickey and probably JA Happ in some order) and while it maybe hurts down the line, this year’s team looks all the better. But it’s not exactly that simple.

After this season, Dickey is a free agent. As a Cy Young winning pitcher just coming off his best seasons yet, he’s bound to get a huge jump in salary. The Jays could try to sign him to an extension, but it’s hard to blame him for cashing in on a career highlights. Another wrinkle is his age: Dickey is 38 years old. True, he relies on knuckleballs and probably has a few years left in him (Tim Wakefield pitched until he was 44) but it’s fair to wonder if he’ll still put up as good numbers in a few seasons. Wakefield was still pitching well into his late 30s (his 2005 season, when he was 38, has his second-best WAR) but his last few seasons were pretty rough.

There’s more wrinkles, too. There’s d’Arnaud’s knees: he missed most of last season after blowing out his knee last June. Going forward, will his knees be an issue? Will he be able to spend most of the season crouching behind the plate or will he end up DHing/playing first (as was an alleged plan if the Jays couldn’t fit him behind Arencebia and Buck) for most of his career?

It seems the trade is best broken down like this: A Cy Young-winning pitcher who’s old, but probably has a few good seasons left in him, for two unproven (but highly touted) prospects, one of whom is getting over a serious knee injury. Again, seems fair to me. I’d rather see Toronto make a run at this year’s postseason with a deep roster than wait and constantly be a few players and a few wins short.

For what it’s worth, maybe the best measure of this trade is what’s happening online: Jays fans are freaking out online and in the comment sections of blogs, saying the team is giving up too much. And over at Mets blogs and the like, fans are saying the Mets aren’t getting enough! If both sides are saying the other is ripping them off, well, that seems as good a sign as any that this trade is pretty even.

Written by M.

December 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm