The R.A. Dickey Trade

As of this writing – 1:15 a.m. on December 15th (less than one week before the End Of The World), R.A. Dickey is still property of the New York Mets. However, there are all kinds of rumors swirling regarding his potential departure to either Toronto or Anaheim/Los Angeles/California. Let’s take a look at the packages being buzzed about in the media.


Supposedly, the Angels are dangling some combination of Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo, and/or Hank Conger. If those are truly the players in play, I pass. Why? A quick rundown on each.

Mark Trumbo
Though Trumbo has the homerun power the Mets desperately need, and has proven he can play a corner outfield position, he’s a strikeout machine who doesn’t get on base; essentially, he’s Dave Kingman. But beyond that is the fact that he turns 27 a month from now. If you are a rebuilding team — which the Mets are — you don’t trade a “win-now” asset such as R.A. Dickey for another “win-now” asset such as Trumbo. It appears that the Mets are gunning for 2015 / 2016, and by then, Trumbo is too close to 30. My feeling is the Mets want to bring back bats under the age of 25 in a deal for Dickey.

Peter Bourjos
Without question, Bourjos is exactly the type of defensive centerfielder the Mets really, really need to cover the vast expanse of Citi Field. He also has the speed that managers like to have in the leadoff spot. However, like Trumbo, Bourjos is not as young as he seems — he turns 26 before Opening Day. That’s not old, but again, I think the Mets are looking to bring back younger bodies. Additionally, though he flashes Gold Glove defense, his offensive skills are questionable. He had an offensively poor 50-game debut as a rookie in 2010, a nice but unspectacular 550-plate-appearance 2011, and a horrid 2012 as a bench player. So, is he the challenged hitter of 2010 and 2012? Or, can he improve upon the .765 OPS he posted in 2011 as a regular, if he’s handed a starting position? And is that his ceiling, or can he raise the roof a bit? Even if he can raise the roof somewhat, that’s not enough of a return to be the centerpiece of a deal for R.A. Dickey — unless he was in his early twenties, which he’s not.

Hank Conger
The Mets need a catcher, and that’s Conger’s primary position. He’s a switch-hitter who has been an on-base machine and shown some pop in the minors. On the downside, his defense is adequate at best, his pro career has been riddled with injuries, and there are whispers that he could have a weight problem. Bottom line is that this soon-to-be-25-year-old more realistically projects as a first baseman or DH — which is not the same as an everyday catcher.

Bottom Line
If the Mets can get Bourjos, Conger, and at least one or two top-10 prospects, it might be worth doing the deal. The Angels have several intriguing minor leaguers, including LHP Nick Maronde, power arms Austin Wood and Mark Sappington (who remind me a bit of Bobby Parnell when he was at their stage of development), among others. At the end of the day, though, I’m not seeing a deal with the Angels.

Blue Jays

The names we’re hearing are center field speedster Anthony Gose and catchers J.P. Arencibia and Travis D’Arnaud.

Anthony Gose
Gose has outstanding speed, an outstanding arm (he threw 97 MPH in high school) plays very good defense, and is 22 years old. In short, he is the type of athletic outfielder lacking in the Mets’ farm system. He has to be part of any package — though, since his bat is a question at this early stage in his career, he can’t be a centerpiece of a deal for the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.

J.P. Arencibia
I like Arencibia’s all-around game. If he were to join the Mets, Arencibia would be the best catcher suiting up in the orange and blue since Paul LoDuca (which is kind of sad when you think about it). However, I fear that Arencibia’s main tool — his homerun power — will be suppressed playing half his games in Citi Cavern. And then what? He’s a younger version of Rod Barajas? Further, that’s not all that young — Arencibia will turn 27 during the first week of January. I’d like him better if the Mets were further along in their plan toward world domination, but, considering that he’s likely a 2- to 3-year stopgap, he can’t be a main piece in a deal for R.A. Dickey.

Travis D’Arnaud
Based on all reports I’ve heard regarding D’Arnaud’s athleticism, hitting prowess, and defensive skills, this kid may be the next Buster Posey. At age 23, there’s still room for development and projection. He was off to a torrid start in Las Vegas this past spring, blasting 16 homers and a .975 OPS through 67 games before a knee injury ended his season. All reports suggest he’s better than Arencibia in all facets of the game, and a future All-Star, which make me wonder how it’s possible the Jays would part with him. At the same time, I remember hearing similar scouting reports / expectations for young backstops such as Taylor Teagarden, Jeff Mathis, Josh Donaldson, and Max Ramirez (to name a few). Despite the uncertainty, I don’t see how the Mets could possibly balk at any deal involving D’Arnaud — even if Jonathon Niese replaces Dickey as the main chip.

Bottom Line
If D’Arnaud is part of the package, it’s a no-brainer — the Mets have to roll the dice and hope he becomes the next Joe Mauer / Johnny Bench / Buster Posey. Otherwise, a trade gets dicey. Gose appears on the surface to be exactly what the Mets need, but if his bat doesn’t develop, he’s another Ryan Thompson or Jeff Duncan. My feeling is that if D’Arnaud is not the centerpiece, the Mets have to get — at minimum — Gose plus at least two of the Jays’ top minor league pitchers, such as Daniel Norris and flamethrower Noah Syndergaard.

What is your thought? Are you liking what the Jays and/or Angels have to offer? Why or why not? Who would you like to see coming back to Flushing in a trade for R.A. Dickey? Post your notes in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Daniel Schrier December 15, 2012 at 3:24 am
    Good piece. I’m by no means a Mets fan but watch them with morbid curiosity. I don’t see an angels deal happening especially if the name trumbo is attached to their demands. The jays rumor is intriguing but should certainly hinge on d’Arnaud. If they can snag him, get it done. There’s no such thing as a sure thing but if he even gets near his potential, the hapless mets will have a centerpiece for years to come as he matures.

    That being said, go Tigers.

    • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm
      Thanks Daniel. “Morbid curiosity” is an eerily fitting term for anyone paying attention to the Mets.
  2. Kevin December 15, 2012 at 5:17 am
    I just had to post here looking at the article. Good thoughts, but the article makes it eerily convenient for your team.

    #1: Dickeys ERA will most likely rise when leaving the CITI, just like how Arencibia’s HR will drop in the CITI, so saying how HR will drop doesnt mean much, when your starting pitcher will drop in efficiency just as much.

    #2: Noah Syndergaard is a franchise starter for the Jays in 2014-2015. He will make 1-2 (pretty much he is what Zack Wheeler is to you guys). Personally, I wouldnt trade Syndergaard for Dickey straight up.

    My bottom line, it hurts as a Jays fan to give up Gose AND arencibia for a year of dickey, D’arnaud? No freaking way. Like you mentioned, he could be a buster posey, and trading a potential like that for 1 year of dickey makes absolutely no sense.

    • Dan B December 15, 2012 at 9:26 am
      Citifield helps flyball pitchers. Dickey is about strikeouts and weak groundballs. Weather is more of a factor then field size.
    • quinn December 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm
      Jays fans.. you wouldnt be trading for one year of Dickey any trade would be contingent on an extension.
      • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm
        Thank you, Quinn. I should have made clear in my post that the Jays are unlikely to give up ANY of their top prospects unless they get R.A. to agree to some kind of extension. My bad.
    • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm
      As Quinn points out, any deal involving the Jays’ top prospects is contingent on Dickey agreeing to an extension (poor choice of wording, I know).

      As for Syndergaard, agreed, he’s a big-time, blue-chip prospect. And you have to give up something of value to get something of value. Dickey is coming off a Cy Young Award and a 20-win season for a team that absolutely sucked. I don’t think you fully understand how badly the Mets sucked; they were terrible defensively, terrible offensively, and had a terrible bullpen. If Dickey pitched for Toronto in 2012, he might have won 30 games — that’s how good he was. For a pitcher coming off a season that good, another team must pay a significant sum to acquire. Though Syndergaard is similar to Zack Wheeler, he, like Wheeler, is still an unknown MLB quantity and still has a way to go.

      Would you give up Syndergaard, Gose, and Arencibia if the return was Zack Greinke ?

  3. NormE December 15, 2012 at 8:31 am
    Good break down, Joe.
    If I recall correctly, doesn’t R.A. generally do better in an indoor park where the weather elements don’t mess with the knuckler? If that’s so, his value to Toronto is enhanced.
    Like many fans, I would hate to lose R.A., both as a player and as person. However the road to Mets success calls for the infusion of new assets. To get value you have to give value and roll the dice.
    • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm
      Norm, you bring up an interesting point. R.A. doesn’t have a large enough sample size indoors to give us a clear idea on how he might perform pitching half his games under a dome. Joe and Phil Niekro both pitched better under domes through their careers, but Tim Wakefield was kind of mixed. Further, Wake was whacked around a bit in the SkyDome.

      Just using basic logic, I would think that consistent climatic elements would result in consistent effect on the knuckleball. My guess is R.A. would learn to use that consistency to his advantage.

  4. Herb G December 15, 2012 at 11:17 am
    By all accounts, it seems it’s the Jays, and D’Arnaud is part of the deal, along with Gose. Met fans (I am one) couldn’t ask for better. Hoping now that Sandy can expand the deal by adding prospects to get Bonifacio, and possibly Syndergaard. If Gose isn’t ready to man CF this year, Boni, who is a better outfielder than infielder, has the speed to do it, then move to a corner when Gose comes up. Wahooooo!!!!!
  5. DaveSchneck December 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm
    As you said above, D’Arnaud plus Gose for Dickey is a must do, even if the Mets need to sweeten it some. Every prospect is a risk. Every player’s next season is a risk. To fill the C and CF/leadoff holes, and with a C that has all-star potential and is one of the top 2 C prospects in the minors, the Mets have to make this deal and I will give Alderson and he crew kudos. Of course, as with all deals, time will tell. But, despite losing a favorite like Dickey, with D’Arnaud behind the plate and Goses in CF, I will be more eager to watch games in 2013, and watch this team battle as underdogs and develop.
  6. SiddFinch December 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm
    It’ll be extra sweet having two ex-Phillie prospects in the starting line-up for the next decade or so. If they get Syndergaard too that would really set up the Mets to potentially have a rotation to rival the Nats and Braves mid-decade.

    If the Mets pull this off, Alderson and his staff deserve a lot of credit for once again grabbing top prospects in major trades.

    At this point in his tenure, Alderson has been mediocre with FA signings and horrible at minor trades, but he’s done extremely well in the large-scale trades that can shape a franchise’s future.

    If the trade goes through as rumored, adding the likes of Wheeler, D’Araund, Gose and possibly Snydergaard in the past 18 mos. really increases the potential for 2014 and beyond. It also makes the Mets more attractive to potential free-agents in the future.

    • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm
      Before we celebrate the genius of Sandy Alderson, let’s see the deal consummated. For all we know, Dickey won’t sign an extension with Toronto and kill the trade.

      Secondly, was the Angel Pagan trade “minor”? Was the K-Rod trade “minor”?

      Thirdly, I’d rate Alderson’s FA signings as far below mediocre. Other than Hairston, who worked out well? DJ Carrasco? FrankFrank? Taylor Buchholz? Boof Bonser?

      • SiddFinch December 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm
        Celebrating the genius of Sandy Alderson? How could I not Joe? He’s the greatest GM in the history of the game. The Mets should be so lucky that he chose to sign on the dotted line…You’re being ridiculous Joe, nothing I wrote was in any way celebrating Alderson’s “genius”

        He has been mediocre in FA signings, not horrible thanks to Capuano, Byrdak, Young, even Cedeno and Rauch. All of those players have done anywhere from good to ok, so his FA signings have been lackluster but not disastrous.

        As for trades. The Pagan for Torres/Ramirez trade was mid-level at best. The Mets and Giants essentially swapped OF coming off down years that neither team wanted, the key to the deal was Ramirez, but even he was just another arm for the pen-you’re 7th inning guy at best. In no way could you consider that a significant trade at the time.

        The only two major trades he’s made are the Beltran and now Dickey deals. If he brings in the players rumored for Dickey without giving too much away then he and his team deserve credit.

        So in closing, during his tenure:

        *Alderson has been mediocre in FA signings at best.

        *Alderson has horrible at mid to low level trades

        *Alderson has done a great job of getting top level prospects in the two trades of A level Mets talent.

        So if that’s celebrating his “genius” then I guess your criteria for genius is much different than mine.

        • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm
          How is it not a “major” trade when a team deals away its starting centerfielder for a new starting centerfielder? We seem also not to be in agreement as to the definition of “major.”

          You forgot to mention the great haul Alderson received for Jose Reyes, and his brilliancy of flipping vets at the deadline such as Capuano, Hairston, Chris Young, Byrdak, and others for minor leaguers to stock the farm system.

          By the way, you ARE being ironic/sarcastic/snarky when you say Alderson is the greatest GM in the history of the game, right? Just checking.

        • Izzy December 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm
          You cannopt argue with the Sandy Alderson lovers. What people see in this zombie who has done nothing since the roidal era, and has turned the Mets into a very small market team is hard to fathom. All these folks falling in love with minor leaguers need to study the track records of the original small market teams. There isn’t much success. They have to delude themselves that Sandy is perfect even though he has a grade of F as GM.
  7. Joe December 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm
    The talk is he is going to Toronto though the details are still up in the air. It would be interesting how this will change the view of some around here that the Mets suck and haven’t really done anything much to stop sucking.

    Anyway, my concern now is the rotation. I would think the team would need another starter with all the question marks and Wheeler not due to mid-season. Shall see.

    • Joe December 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm
      I also would think about giving Hairston two years.
      • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm
        • DaveSchneck December 15, 2012 at 7:59 pm
          He’s a great locker room presence, of course. Seriously, we need to see what plays oujt with this trade, but I would much prefer Hairston to Ross. HE will cost less, and he has put up 20 homers playing his home games in Citifield. Ross’s numbers away from Fenway last year were lousy Let Philly have him.
        • Joe Janish December 16, 2012 at 12:18 am
          I prefer neither Ross nor Hairston. As much as it bothers me that the Mets don’t have any OFs, it’s more bothersome that they may pony up several millions and multiple years for a fourth outfielder, when they don’t have a starting 3.

          2013 is in the toilet, so may as well throw Capt. Kirk, Den Dekker, Cory Vaughn, Wilmer Flores, and anyone else out there into the fire. What is there to lose?

        • Joe December 16, 2012 at 2:01 am
          There are three outfield spots to try out prospects and such, particularly if they mix and match. Having ONE guy who has shown power and ability is not really a bad idea imho.

          I realize you wanted to get rid of the guy in July for some chance to possibly get someone who might do something, so I’m not really surprised you don’t want him, but since this is NY and all, there is some expectation that we won’t start all question marks in the OF.

          As to 2013 being in the “toilet,” 2012 wasn’t in the “toilet” until August (when the swoon was not something short term). So, I’m not seeing the whole season as in the toilet quite yet.

        • DaveSchneck December 16, 2012 at 3:13 pm
          Despite the tough competition in the NL east, on Dec. 16 I do not consider 2013 to be in he toilet. It may get there, but not yet. For all we know they can obtain Stanton before opening day. Signing Hairston means one of the OF spots is filled – he can platoon with either Duda in LF or Kirk in RF. Maybe just maybe they cn find a CF/leadoff hitter. Lets reassess after this trade is finalized.
  8. SiddFinch December 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm
    I just read in Rubin’s ESPN column that another team unexpectedly contacted the Mets about Dickey last night. I wonder if it’s the Rangers and they are trying to work something to challenge the Jays offer behind the scenes.
  9. Dan B December 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm
    I was going to say now we can use Dickey’s salary to help the outfield but then I remember who I was talking about. Ever get the feeling Met fans would be excited to get D’Arnaud and Gose while the Wilpons are excited about saving potentially $25 milliom? (Sorry for being the party pooper)
  10. AC Wayne December 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm
    If Dickey is eventually traded, I guess we can expect another fourth place finish for 2013, if it is prospects that we get in return, they won’t see the bigs until 2014, maybe…the rotation will suffer w/o Dickey, he was our stopper, Niese is inconsistent, Santana, big ??? Harvey can’t carry the whole staff, plus their BP still sux, Francisco as your closer, whaa?? great, the Mets can say they have Baseball America’s top prospects all they want but on the MLB level they’re still not cutting it, KEEP DICKEY!!!
    • SiddFinch December 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm
      Keeping and re-signing Dickey means having the best 4th place rotation in MLB for the next three years. Trading him, if it’s for the players rumored, means solving two major problems that if not solved keeps the Mets below-500 for the next several years.

      By mid-year of ’13, if the trade is completed as rumored, you would have a stud catcher, true leadoff capable CF with strong arm and great speed as well as a compliment to Harvey and Wheeler in the rotation with the highly-touted, hard-throwing Syndergaard.

      For the team, in its current state, keeping Dickey is a luxury we cannot afford (I’m not talking financial) if we can acquire solutions to our more pressing needs in CF and C. Dickey is our only trading chip that can bring back high-level quality in return.

  11. AC Wayne December 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm
    I agree that the Mets have holes at catcher and CF but I read that D’Arnaud experienced a knee injury that cut his season short this past year (ugh) and that he also needs work stopping balls behind the plate, as for Gose, he’s prob not in the deal, which means the Mets glaring problems may not be solved if this deal does go through??
    • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm
      This trade is not about fixing the Mets’ short-term problems, it’s about making progress toward fixing their long-term problem of a crappy farm system.

      Yes, D’Arnaud missed the second half with a knee injury, but it’s assumed he’ll be ready for Opening Day; plus, the Mets are going nowhere in 2013.

      My thought is the Mets need to get a young arm or two if not Gose. They need to keep stockpiling young arms and hope one or two pan out by 2015.

  12. Vilos December 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm
    If you think about it, this situation reflects the general state of the Mets farm system. Its been written that the Mets organization is middle of the pack or worst. While for us fans its a difficult task to truely know how they rank, just seeing that they dont have too many qualified catchers and outfielders is an indication that the reports might be right.

    So how does an organization go about rebalancing and overhauling: drafting and trades. Drafting is longer, trades are shorter but cost talent. Therefore trading a great pitcher for a great prospect is one of two ways to go about rebalancing .

    If D’Arnaud pans out to be a cornerstone of a future contender, as Joe gives him the option to be, then its worth it, even if it means that we lose more games in 2013.

    I’ve said it before on this site, we don’t know what Alderson’s plan looks like, but we know Wright has publicly backed it, and we have seen these past two years how he has chosen or been forced to wait out contracts without adding impact talent, contrary to big market oportunities.

    He has publicly said (or at least, thats what I understand), that he intends to balance his payroll waiting for the big contracts to expire and then he needs for tickets sales to go up, in order to bring it up again. We all know that ticket sales go up when the team gets competitive, so in the end, I agree with Joe when he says the Mets are following a small market approach to rebuilding.

    So my point is, a plan is in place, the organization is going about rebalancing its talent base and this trade seems to make perfect sense.

    • Joe Janish December 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      One part of Alderson’s plan that I’m having a hard time figuring out: how in the world are they going to move Citi Field to Kansas City?

      • Vilos December 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm
        Its reasonable to think that the small market approach is due iniatially to the Wilpons financial problems. But its also reasonable to think, that many years of high payroll teams with no results to show is also part of the problem.

        i’ve been a Met fan since the esrly seventies but only recently have I been hooked on Met blogs, so I don’t really know the full story of the Wilpon era, after Cashen through Minaya, as I’m able to follow now.

        So maybe, after trying different approaches, the Wilpons have also bought into Alderson plan to rebuild, rebalance and wait for a surge (and then hopefully follow up). Who knows.

      • Izzy December 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm
        The team ain’t moving to KC. Its moving to Omaha or Missoula.
        • Joe Janish December 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm
          How about Manhattan, Kansas? That would be ironic.
  13. Dan B December 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm
    The big market approach didn’t work because the people running it didn’t do a good job — not because big market approaches don’t work.
    I hear a lot of talk of a balanced approach but I still don’t see it. We claim to be building a farm system but our farm is mediocre and weak on major league ready help. Plus we have cut spending and will be playing in Vegas. Plus we missed plenty of opportunities to trade departing players for prospects which doesn’t surprise me because we don’t trade for major leaguers, either. The last aspect of a balanced approach is filling gaps with free agents. We are not too good with that, too.
    The Dickey trade might turn out to be a steal for the Mets like the Beltran trade was. But bottom line is that like the Beltran trade it is not enough. Not even close.