As the Jays continue trying to work out a contract extension with R.A. Dickey, ahead of Tuesday’s 2 PM ET deadline, here’s as much reaction to AA’s second blockbuster of the off-season as anyone could possibly need…
ESPN Stat & Info sees lots to like about Dickey for the Jays– including the fact that the club now has three of the top four fielding pitchers in baseball, per DRS over the last three years, with Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Romero. They also point out that, in a horrifically small sample size of six starts, since his New York renaissance began, he’s 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA against the Jays’ AL East rivals. Dickey, they add, has been the eleventh best pitcher in baseball over the past three season, per rWAR (fWAR ranks him 30th), with Josh Johnson 10th and Mark Buehrle 16th.
The New York Post finds the rare evaluator who isn’t a big d’Arnaud fan. He explains, “I liked him, but he was third in the Eastern League on my list as far as catchers. He’s defensively solid and he’s got some power, but to be honest I wasn’t overly impressed with the guy.” We get hung up on prospects’ ceilings, but if there are enough guys in the Jays organization who think d’Arnaud won’t quite hit his, the difference between him and Arencibia certainly gets a bit smaller– and maybe the club thinks there’s something to the notion that catchers’ bats develop slower, meaning we may still see more out of JPA, and may be farther from the best of d’Arnaud.
Ken Rosenthal zeroes in on the timing aspect of the deal as well, in his reaction post at Fox Sports, but makes clear he sees more to like than just that. “If Dickey was a conventional thrower — and yes, a bit younger — few would question this trade. Dickey’s strikeout rate increased in each of the past three seasons. His hit rate decreased, and his walk rate remained stable and low,” he explains. “He’s athletic, he logs innings, he throws strikes. A rival executive puts it best, saying that Dickey has “found something.’ “ Rosenthal adds that the Jays balked last year at dealing Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino and Jake Marisnick– all who have been now dealt (along with other pieces) for a much more transformative return.
Jason Parks joins Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller on BP’s Effectively Wild podcast to discuss the deal, expressing his shock– as a prospect guy– at the talent the Jays are giving up, and noting that the Jays must believe there’s something to the notion that Dickey may be dynamite pitching in a Dome. He wonders whether the Jays could have made a play for David Price, given the package that they’re willing to give up here. It’s not an unfair question, I guess, and it’s one I’ve been hit with on Twitter a number of times over the last couple of days– with Price’s name sometimes replaced with Halladay, Cliff Lee, “someone better,” or “someone younger”– and… uh… yeah, probably not. If something was available that was better and could be done for this package, we don’t think the GM who makes 20 calls to one is going to sniff it out?
At Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan writes about the leverage Dickey has in his negotiations with the Jays, given his knowledge of how desperately they obviously want him. There’s another side to it, of course: his fallback option is to return to the Mets (likely temporarily) and to his $5-million option. “An agent not involved with the negotiations suggested he would seek a three-year extension with vesting options for a fourth and fifth season,” he writes. “A compromise, another official said, could include tearing up Dickey’s one-year, $5 million contract for 2013 and giving him a new deal somewhere in the range of three years and $38 million.” Sure… why not?
The New York Times looks at the “hefty price” the Mets will pay to pry a couple of gilt-edged prospects away from the Jays. “Alderson’s decision to make this deal will engender a mixed reaction from Mets fans, who embraced Dickey not only as one of the lone bright spots on an underperforming team, but also as a singular character among professional athletes,” Andrew Keh writes.
Mike Wilner lays down a tonne of words in favour of the deal, over at Sportsnet, pointing out how little they cared about big time prospects in the days of Jeff Kent and Steve Karsay, and going through some BA top ten lists from the last decade, noting all kinds of busted careers even at the very top of the industry consensus. Importantly, he also notes that the club is not “all in,” as many have been rather casually suggesting, since there’s still a tonne of young talent coming through the system– Sanchez, Gose, Osuna, Smoral, Norris, Nolin, Tirado, Barreto, and more.
Wilner’s colleague Shi Davidi sees the seeds of this deal in some of the possibilities Alex Anthopoulos left open when speaking in the wake of the Miami trade. ”I still think we can make more trades involving prospects, and assuming we don’t trade everybody, still have a pretty good group of players. We’re still going to be active in Latin America going forward, we’re still going to have a top draft pick again (No. 10 this year), there are still ways to replenish,” the GM said last month. “We built up enough inventory that we could handle one more big trade if we needed to.”
Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun wonders if JP Arencibia has just gone from trade bait to one of the most important players on the club, as the last catcher standing has little in the way of cover behind him on the depth chart. While elsewhere in the Sun, Joel Columby gives five reasons to like Dickey, and Ken Fidlin weighs in on a deal he acknowledges looks somewhat crazy in terms of the talent and years of control being given up, but that gives the Jays such big extra push over the next few years that it’s simply hard to argue against. Additionally, Mike Rutsey suggests that Dickey provides a fantastic bit of insurance in case Romero tanks again– perhaps another reason for the urgency.
Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail applauds the deal, in part by citing a study from Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois, which showed that showed that Dickey has been “throwing more than just one knuckleball. He uses different knuckleballs in different counts, and the conventional wisdom is that in an environmentally neutral, indoor facility such as the Rogers Centre, Dickey would be even more effective.” Of the deal, he concludes that, “on purely baseball terms, it sure seems defensible.”
John Sickels happens to have his Mets top 20 prospects list up at Minor League Ball, and the guys occupying spots one and three on the list are the (almost) newly-acquired d’Arnaud and Syndergaard.
Dirk Hayhurst is befuddled by fans bellowing about prospect hype all summer, then bellowing now that the Jays have dealt so much from their farm.
Richard Justice of MLB.com thinks the AL East is there for the taking. “If you look closely enough, you can find a reason not to believe in the Blue Jays in 2013,” he writes. “But there are far more reasons to believe.”
At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron looks at “going for broke, Toronto style,” contrasting this deal with the Royals’ acquisition of James Shields, and explaining that the reason he’s been hard on KC but not AA is that the Jays’ “prior moves make all the difference in the world.”
Over at Mop Up Duty they dip into the ol’ ESPN Stats & Info data to scout Dickey.
Lastly, MLB Trade Rumors rounds up a bunch of other reactions to the deal, including Jim Bowden’s saying that Sandy Alderson received the maximum possible return for Dickey, and Rob Bradford of Boston’s WEEI.com, who breaks down the rotations in the AL East, and polls readers– three quarters of whom, at the time of this writing, felt the Jays’ was the best.
Image via @Reever29.