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:

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.

Comments (52)

  1. good read… could turn out as a wonderful deal for both, could be brutal for us, but if it gets us a WS, I’ll more than forgive AA … FFF

  2. All I can say is it’s about time!

  3. Costly, scary, exciting.

    AA stacked the farm once, he can do it again. The jays are now the best team on paper, or close to it.

    If TDA and Syndegaard realize anywhere in the higher reaches of their potential, it will sting. But considering the current make up of the team and thinking about what the WS odds will be after the deal is done, it makes me feel it’s worth it.

    • “AA stacked the farm once, he can do it again. ”

      No he can’t. The CBA has been overhauled and the opportunities to game the compensation system or spend heavily on international free agents are gone. This was the only chance AA was ever going to get to spend this kind of prospect capital. We all better hope to hell it works out.

  4. Exactly, Drew. It’s time to enjoy this great (not good, but great) team that AA has built and not worry about whether guys like Noah Syndergaard are quality major league pitchers three years down the road.

    They may not have Baseball America’s #1 rated farm system anymore, but some seem to forget that the point of all of this is make the playoffs and hopefully win a championship. The Jays now have a great opportunity to do both of those things for the foreseeable future, something we haven’t been able to say for 20 years.

  5. RA Dickey
    Josh Johnson
    Mark Buerhle
    Brandon Morrow
    Ricky Romero

    That is terrifying(ly) good. I know Romero had a dreadful year, but we have gone from him being our #1 starter(and a pretty good one) to being our 5th starter. That is, um, good.

    • And a pretty good one? since when does a 5.77 era and a 1.67 whip qualify as even acceptable?

      • Yes pretty good, he had a 2.92 era and 1.13 whip in 2011 and a 3.60 era and 1.3 whip from 2009 to 2011, 2012 is clearly an outlier, don’t kid yourself. if he returns to half of what he was in those 3 years he would be GREAT as a 5. No one in the Majors can compare to this lineup only problem and a HUGE one at that is if they can stay healthy but hopefully that was the conditioning coaches fault.

    • If I was gm i would of got Zack Greinke

  6. People having been whining for 10/15 yrs about how long do we have to wait to contend,and now they’re complaining about going for it…. I’m so confused!

    • I don’t think we’re complaining because the Jays are going for it. We’re complaining because we’re trading for a 38 year old knuckeballer with 3 good years behind him and maybe, just maybe another 3-4 years ahead of him. Unproven (no large sample size) in the AL East. We’re absolutely excavating our farm system to do so. TDA, while an uproven at the ML level, is not considered our #1 prospect for no reason. I’m not whining about the trade, I get it: I’m not AA, have no control and don’t see what he sees. But, for these next 2-3 years we will have a chance to win it all because after that we’re going to take another lenghty break from October baseball. Trading our future for now is risky. All in. I don’t agree…but I’ll take a CY young winner anyday of the week.

  7. We’ve never seen this much talk about an AA trade before its happened. Ill believe it when I see it.

  8. This makes me nervous as fuck, which is kinda fucking awesome.

  9. I need a break from the trade talk. It’s like a two day hookers-and-blow bender….now I just want a tossed salad and a Sunday church service.

    This made more sense in my head. Um…go Jays.

  10. FFF. It is now acceptable to get unreasonably excited.

  11. I know I’m a value guy and while Dickey provides a lot of value, TdA projects to some huge positive value (not to mention the negative value that JPA provides). I understand the deal, it’s all about the playoffs this year, but I’m really not liking the approximately $30M in increases in 2014 on a payroll that is already the highest we’ve ever had. I have no idea the actual financial value of making the playoffs, but I do not like the teams ability to find value moving forward, as they don’t have the prospects ready to step in…so the option becomes spend.

    • not sure of your numbers but arent they losing johnson in 2014? no way they shed his contract and still go up 30 million.

      • sorry just counting increases of the guys on the roster. JJ and Lind come off the books and of course possibly Dickey if there is no extension. I’m still concerned

  12. at this point clean out the farm. replace lind, for the love of god. and please d’arnaud, please be travis snider. as for Syndegaard, please throw yourself into a hospital bed.

  13. Well said and great insight into the potential of this trade.

  14. I hate seeing TdA and Syndergaard go elsewhere, but I really do want RAD too.

    The thing that concerns me the most is I also want the Jays to be genuine contenders for more than just the next three years. Without those blue chip kids, it’s harder to see it happening.

    AA will probably go back to restocking the farm after this season, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

  15. Dumb dumb dumb. Why don’t we trade gose and Laurie with it. And become the new Yankees. Dickey will get lit up in the Al East he’s a #3 at best on the jays. If not a 4 or 5

  16. Couldn’t agree more.

    The more I read up on and learn about R.A. Dickey — not the pitcher but the man behind the pitcher, the more I get excited. I’m finding myself increasingly more content with the fact that d’Arnaud and Syndergaard are the pieces that must move to get him here. Bullshit Davidoff character assassination articles aside, he seems like a great addition to the clubhouse for some of a lot of the younger guys.

    As you mentioned….tossing a knuckleballer in between guys like Johnson and Morrow is going to give opposing managers and batters fits. Like it or lump it — an effective knuckleballer can alter series by messing up timing of batters. He’d make any relief or closer that scrapes 90-91 to look like they’re throwing 100mph heat.

    I think the vitriol being hurled towards AA by a lot of fans is fucking nuts. Yes, it sucks to have to actually give up prospects but if you look at all the moves he’s made…he’s still probably winning by a few points. Have some faith in the guy….he’s the right kind of ballsy.

    • That’s one thing I always remember about Tim Wakefield. When the relievers came in after him – no matter how Wakefield had done – the hitters were a mess trying to adjust to the increased speed.

  17. Think a rotation of this quality might be mixed up just to throw off opponents so there aren’t 3 right handers pitching in a row? I could see that being detrimental in a 3 game series where it just so happens all three righties are scheduled. So change the rotation to minimize that effect.
    Johnson
    Dickey
    Buehle(or 4th)
    Morrow(or 3rd)
    Romero

    • I like:

      Dickey
      Morrow
      Buerhle
      Johnson
      Romero

      I think Morrow will bring a bit more heat than Johnson creating a larger separation in velocity. ‘Romero the number-5′ looks beautiful on paper.

      • Don’t think of it as 1-5, think about it as “the best order, maximizing the differences between starters…”

        Dickey
        Johnson
        Buerhle
        Romero
        Morrow

        And yes, I know Buerhle and Romero are both lefties, but RR has reverse splits.

  18. Do not like the deal too much. D’Arnaud would be ready for this year and likely for years to come while Dickey doesn’t have much left in him, no matter how good he is at age 38. He’s only going down from here. Though D’Arnaud’s injury record seems to balance out the deal a bit.

    Of course you could say we could restock the farm system but I’d much prefer a younger ace. Perhaps harder to trade for than Dickey and an ideal trading partner like the Mets is hard to find but still. Not a big fan of the deal, but it definitely improves the Jays for this year.

  19. A better trade would be D’Arnaud to the Phillies back for Roy Halladay!

  20. Why not offer this same package for David price? Are you telling me the rays wouldn’t accept d’arnaud + syndegaard for him?

  21. Dave Cameron with How to Go for Broke, Blue Jays Style http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/how-to-go-for-broke-blue-jays-style/

  22. What’s disturbing to me, is that apart from D’arnaud we don’t have a single elite position player prospect!! Am I right?? Nothing but second tier guys, except maybe Davis…..? Help Me!!

    • They don’t really need an elite position player with the way their offense is set up for now and the future. Only Lind is not under contract after 2013, so that should be the only hole to fill next year. In terms of the farm, there is no legit 1B prospects, but they do have Matt Dean and Mitch Nay, both 3B, who could shift to first if Lawrie becomes a star.

    • Goes, Jiminez, Dj Davis,Pillar (4th Of) , the rest are where all the TBJs farm talent is A+ and below for position players.

      Yes, we gave up 2 position prospect players this season, but Goes is ready to be there.

      The rest of the position players will be given the opportunity to step up to the plate this year. We have lost Nicolino , Syndergaard, Descaifani, all A level pitiching.

      There is a great deal of SP & RP that will be in double AA and Drabek, Hutchinson and Perez will be back in the end of 13. So lets not get hysterical.

      The quality of Major League Starting Pitchers Staff and Position Players
      allows time for the farm clubs to develop both the domestic and international prospects.

  23. But I won’t be disturbed at all when I’m figuring out what bar to go to for watching WS games!!

  24. After watching AA bring in some pitching that did alright before they got to the Jays then watching what those pitchers did once they got to TO is more worrying to me. If any of these guys have a bad year and they don’t win it all there is no guarantee they will all have good years at the same time. That’s why I like the longer control idea. If you have a bad year you still have everybody next year. If this deals goes through the the Jays have emptied the farm for 2 pitchers who could leave at the end of next season. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

  25. I wish the season started tomorrow.

  26. If dickey ends up goin to TORONTO i will be the happiest man alive
    I

  27. “The Toronto Blue Jays expect to make the playoffs. Not hope, expect.”
    Nails much?

  28. I don’t care.

    What I care about is the lie told by a hundred people on twitter that turned it into truth. The assumption that Knuckleball pitchers pitch longer then others. People will name you Hough, Niekro(HOF) and Wakefield. 3 guys off the top of their heads. one a HOF, one pitched so long that our generation remembers him, though he wasn’t very good after the age 37. And Wakefield who finally just retired. And he too had his last decent season at 38.

    After that it’s guys from the deadball era who’s names we know because they are in basbeall movies like 8 men out.

    I may exaggerate a bit. But so are those pushing the notion that Knuckleball pitchers can pitch till there 60.

    There is no substantial proof that knuckleball pitchers, because as the argument goes have less wear and tear. Pitch longer more successfully.

    I wish people would stop perpetuating a false fact.

    Then maybe I would be able to sit back and and take this trade in.

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