The rumors swirled all night and day (as lovingly curated by your heroes Andrew Stoeten and Archi Zuber) but now, at 10:00 PM on Saturday, comes the first example of a national writer/trade hound naming names. After Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports was among the first to include Travis d’Arnaud’s name among those leaving Toronto in exchange for National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.
What I can only assume was grueling 24 hours passes and Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the structure of a trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets. Nothing official but one source did confirm that flags do indeed fly forever. The deal looks like this:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 16, 2012
Seeing the names of Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndegaard in the trade will cause many dedicated Blue Jays fans to blanch, as the catching prospect has been the top prize in the Blue Jays system since Brett Lawrie graduated to everyday play in the big leagues, while Noah Syndegaard was recently ranked as the second best prospect in the Jays system.
d’Arnaud is a toolsy catcher with a strong defensive pedigree who also receives good marks for his athleticism and the ability for his bat to deliver more than just power but doubles and a reasonably high average, too. Syndegaard is a big, hard-throwing powerhouse who racks up Ks with an elite fastball, though he is yet to even reach high-A.
Just Dickey and d’Arnaud on their own are enough to make this a blockbluster – the inclusion of another blue chip prospect makes it a massive deal which could change the fortunes of two franchises. The Blue Jays acquire the man voted best pitcher in the National League in 2012 who is also set to earn a mere $5 mil in 2013. That kind of rare talent doesn’t come cheap, thus the asking price of two top prospects. One of whom is very much big league ready and one with the type of ceiling you can dream on.
R.A. Dickey might frighten the uninitiated Jays fans but, trust me, he is as good as advertised. An older player with an unconventional pitch serving as his main line of attack makes him an easy target for skeptics. Which is a shame, as Dickey’s track record is as strong as any pitcher you can name. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs went to great lengths to show that, yes, Dickey has been a dominant pitcher in the National League since 2010 – the equal of David Price.
Meanwhile, Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus shows that while trading top prospects is rare, those who do move are far less productive than those who stay with the team that drafted them. This trade marks the second time Travis d’Arnaud would move since he was drafted, as the young catcher came to Toronto in the Roy Halladay deal.
This is a risk for both sides, of course. The Blue Jays are betting heavily on an aging pitcher with an unpredictable pitch, trading a highly rated catching prospect who could one day blossom into an all star and the kind of big armed prospect that makes scouts drool. They do so with a decidedly lackluster catching corps in place for a season that they, the Toronto Blue Jays, appear to be going for broke at just the right time.
The Yankees are older than jokes about how old the Yankees are and the Red Sox appear content to plug holes with role players rather than make a splash befitting their aspirations, having been burned by that approach before. The Rays are always dangerous but they did just trade their number two starter, an innings-eating holdover from the Devil Rays days, for a near-sure thing but still a young player without any big league experience. The Orioles cannot expect to catch lightning in a bottle two consecutive years, can they?
The time is now for the Toronto Blue Jays. They just overhauled their entire roster in making a twelve-player trade with the Marlins and signing free agent Melky Cabrera. Adding a pitcher like Dickey gives them not only an ace but the perfect compliment to their existing talent.
Alternating between power righties throwing wipeout sliders & curves and an elite pitcher tossing knuckleballs with a soft-tossing lefty efficiency expert worked in? These are the things that keep opposing managers cold chills when four game weekend near closer on the calender.
The Mets get two terrific prospects to add to their growing list of terrific prospects. They add a man tasked with catching and working with their exciting young pitching staff – a pitching staff to which they just made a significant addition in Noah Syndergaard. The Mets are much worse in 2013 but now pipeline ready to feed special talent to the big league level for the next two or three years.
Unless they choose, as the Toronto Blue Jays have, to use that talent to bolster their big club when they see an opportunity. The Jays haven’t quite emptied their farm system but between this trade and the Marlins move, they gave up a whole lot of control and a whole of future for all kinds of now. The ownership group is flexing its financial might and the baseball operations team shows that hording prospects is a means to more than one end.
The Toronto Blue Jays expect to make the playoffs. Not hope, expect. Maybe not this year but the expectations in Toronto are now 180 degrees from where they were a year ago. The time for excuses and stalling and payroll parameters is over. Welcome to relevance, Toronto. It’s been a while.