On December 17,2012, the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays finalized a seven-player trade that sent the 2012 Cy Young Award Winner, RA Dickey, along with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Blue Jays for two elite prospects, Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, plus veteran catcher, John Buck, and a young outfield prospect, Wuilmer Becerra. This was a trade that signified two teams that are headed in different directions. The Mets are clearly in the process of attempting to rebuild a team with a wealth of young, talented players while the Blue Jays are attempting to make a run at the World Series after adding a lot of big names in a trade with the Marlins.
As we sit here today on April 12,2013, it appears that the Mets have done very well for themselves in the trade with the Blue Jays. Potentially, the Mets could have done historically well in this deal. At the time of the trade, many people in Baseball were astounded with the return that Sandy Alderson received for RA Dickey. Today, it seems even more unbelievable.
RA Dickey has gotten off to a less than impressive start with the Blue Jays so far. He has given up 10 ER in only 10.2 IP while opponents have a .326 BA against him. Obviously, this is a small sample size and in no way am I implying that RA can't turn it around, but these outings can't be encouraging for the Blue Jays and their fans.
The other pieces that the Mets sent to the Blue Jays, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, did not make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster. Neither Thole nor Nickeas have proven themselves to be starting-caliber Major League Catchers so far in their relatively short careers. They are both challenged offensively to say the least and their primary value to the Blue Jays is that they can catch RA Dickey's knuckleball. To put it in perspective, Thole and Nickeas performed so poorly in Spring Training that the Blue Jays chose to a 41 year-old Catcher, Henry Blanco, over both of them.
On the other side, the Mets have fared well so far with the pieces that they received in the trade. Travis d'Arnaud has gotten off to a hot start with the Las Vegas 51s and should be called up to the Big Show very soon. He has a very bright future ahead of him and is widely considered to be a top prospect in Baseball. MLB.com rated him as the 6th best prospect in Baseball headed into 2013.
Noah Syndergaard is a highly regarded, tall, hard throwing right handed pitcher who is currently pitching in A+ ball and should be promoted as the year progresses. He was named as the 30th best prospect in Baseball according to MLB.com. The Mets believe that he can be a top of the rotation pitcher and a member of the triumvirate of young, power arms along with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.
John Buck is a solid, veteran catcher who is currently on fire. Buck is currently hitting .375, which is tied for 7th in the National League. He has 5 HRs, which is tied for second in the NL. He also leads the league in RBIs with 15 in only 32 ABs. Buck is not viewed as a long term solution at Catcher for the Mets, but if he continues to stay healthy and produce offensively then he would be a major bargaining chip for the Mets as the year progresses. Ideally, the Mets would love to trade him when his value is optimal and receive a player or two who can help them for years to come. This would allow them to call up Travis d'Arnaud, who would immediately become the full time starting Catcher.
Wuilmer Becerra is an 18 year-old Outfield prospect for the Mets. He signed with the Blue Jays in July, 2011 for $1.3 Million as an International Free Agent. Becerra was ranked as the 5th best International Free Agent when he signed with the Blue Jays. He is a big kid, standing at 6'4 and almost 200lbs, who projects to be a solid corner Outfielder in the future. You can read more about Bucerra here.
After looking at this trade, the Mets basically traded a 38 year-old Knuckleball Pitcher plus two Minor-League Catchers for two blue-chip prospects plus a Major League Catcher and a young, high-ceiling Outfield Prospect.
The outlook of this trade hinges upon the production of RA Dickey. If he does not produce at a high level in Toronto then the Mets will be viewed as the consensus winners of this trade by a large margin regardless of how the Mets prospects perform. The only way that I can view this trade as a win for the Blue Jays would be if they went on to win the World Series or if Dickey won the Cy Young again.
Imagine how this trade will be viewed if d'Arnaud and Syndergaard pan out to be as good as advertised. In that case, the Mets would have received their Catcher of the future plus a top of the rotation Starting Pitcher for Dickey. This trade has the potential to be an absolute steal for the Mets even if just one of these players fulfills expectations. Not to mention, this deal could also yield more players for the Mets if they are able to trade John Buck.
You have to be impressed with Sandy Alderson based on the RA Dickey trade plus the trade of Carlos Beltran. When the Mets traded Beltran, he was a 34 year-old Outfielder who was leading the NL in doubles at the time. However, he was a major risk for any team that wanted to trade for him due to his history of nagging injuries plus the fact that his contract was due to expire after the 2011 season. Somehow, Sandy traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants and received Zack Wheeler in return. Wheeler is now coveted by the Mets and their fans. Fans love him to the point where most of them wouldn't consider trading him in a package even if it brought back players like Justin Upton and Giancarlo Stanton. Sandy traded a 34 year old, two-month rental player to the Giants for Zack Wheeler. Now that's impressive.
Imagine what people will say about the RA Dickey trade if Dickey tanks and the new Mets prospects flourish. There are definitely no guarantees with prospects, but just imagine the possibilities.
I think that this was still a smart trade for the Mets even if none of the prospects pan out. I think that Sandy made this trade with the idea of making the Mets a contender for a long period of time. It was the right move for the Mets.
As a Mets fan, I am ecstatic with this trade and I have only been more encouraged as time has passed. Bravo, Sandy.
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