The Mets have sold high on R.A. Dickey after the 38-year-old knuckleballer's Cy Young season, trading him to the Blue Jays as part of a seven-player deal. Toronto will receive Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas in exchange for John Buck and prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and Wuilmer Becerra. As part of the deal, Toronto has also agreed to a three-year extension with Dickey.
D'Arnaud, 24 in February, was rated as Baseball America's No. 17 prospect heading into 2012 and the Blue Jays' top prospect according to MLB.com. The catcher moved up to Triple-A this past season and posted a .333/.380/.595 batting line with 16 home runs in 67 games. While some have speculated that his knee could be trouble, the Mets have reportedly reviewed his medicals and deemed them to be fine.
Syndergaard, Toronto's third-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, was a supplemental first round selection and the 38th overall pick in the 2010 draft. The 20-year-old spent last season at Class A Lansing posting a 2.60 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 pitching line in 103 2/3 innings covering 27 games including 19 starts. Syndergaard's fastball can easily reach into the upper-90s with a power breaking ball and changeup that can develop into above-average or plus pitches.
Becerra, a native of Venezuela, played the first 11 games of his professional career this past season before turning 18 on October 1st. The right-handed hitter stands 6'4" and played left and right field during his Rookie League debut. Becerra signed for $1.3MM in July of 2011, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. He has athleticism and speed to go along with raw power, and could project as a power/speed corner outfielder, Badler wrote in March.
Nickeas, a Vancouver, British Columbia native, appeared in 47 games for the Mets in 2012. The right-handed hitting 29-year-old posted a .174/.242/.229 batting line in 122 plate appearances with New York. He has MLB experience in parts of three seasons, but is not yet arbitration eligible.
The 26-year-old Thole is a career .261/.331/.333 hitter in 1026 plate appearances for the Mets. The former 13th-round selection has served as New York's primary catcher in each of the past two seasons and is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $1.2MM salary for Thole.
The Mets signed Dickey as a free agent three winters ago and he immediately became a fixture in the team's rotation. From 2010-11 he averaged 192 innings with a 3.08 ERA, 5.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. Then, in 2012, Dickey's performance improved substantially. He led the National League with 233 2/3 innings pitched, 230 strikeouts and five complete games, posting a 2.73 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He made his first All-Star appearance, collected MVP votes and won the NL Cy Young Award. It led to some differences of opinion on Dickey's value and some unique contract negotiations.
The Mets discussed an extension with the knuckleballer, but the sides didn't reach an agreement. The club exercised Dickey's 2013 option in October, which means he'll earn $5MM in 2013, and didn't appear to offer more than $20MM for the 2014-15 seasons.
Many other teams had interest in trading for Dickey. Every AL East team checked in on him, and the Royals, Rangers, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Angels were also interested at various points during the offseason. Ultimately, however, the Blue Jays offered the best package and will add Dickey to a rotation that also includes Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report that the trade had been agreed upon. Joel Sherman and Mike Puma of the New York Post first reported that the framework consisted of Dickey, Thole and another player for D'Arnaud, Syndergaard, Buck and a prospect (all Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports added that Nickeas and Becerra were the other two names involved in the deal.
Zach Links, Edward Creech and Steve Adams contributed to this post.