TORONTO — Talks between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets over NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey were hanging in the balance Saturday, amid reports that the clubs were making steady progress toward a deal and that an exchange may be imminent.
The constant back-and-forth, playing out via Twitter updates and rampant internet speculation, is reminiscent of the summer of 2009, when GM-at-the-time J.P. Ricciardi floated the notion of trading then-ace Roy Halladay to trigger a firestorm that didn’t peter out until the trade deadline passed.
Trade combinations with the Philadelphia Phillies for Halladay changed daily, and eventually the Blue Jays were left in the lurch when the Phils turned to the Cleveland Indians and acquired Cliff Lee instead.
Ricciardi is now a special assistant with the Mets, and while things aren’t to that point yet, one source suggested there was a chance things could still fall apart or still happen, with what was holding up a potential deal uncertain.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reported that as of Saturday morning, the teams were kicking around a deal that would send Dickey, catcher Josh Thole and another piece to the Blue Jays for top prospects Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard (who was part of the Oakland Athletics’ ask for Gio Gonzalez last off-season), veteran catcher John Buck and another player.
The other players are significant in this case, as the Blue Jays are likely to want some sort of future piece back with Dickey bound for free agency after the 2013 season. They have long coveted reliever Bobby Parnell, who the Mets have long refused to even discuss, and many of the other pieces the Blue Jays might want off their roster (Jonathan Niese, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda) are part of New York’s future, which makes equalizing the value complicated.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported that the Blue Jays are unlikely to be granted a window to negotiate an extension with Dickey, and the right-hander with more years of control is worth more than him with just one. But it’s possible that they have a sense of whether he’d sign or not, and the fact that he’s reportedly seeking a two year extension at $26 million is surely part of the attraction, given where pitching prices are headed.
Still, potentially surrendering both d’Arnaud and Syndergaard would be very steep price for the Blue Jays.
D’Arnaud has been viewed as the catcher of the future since he was acquired as part of the Halladay deal pulled off by Alex Anthopoulos after the ’09 season, although backstop is a position of depth with J.P. Arencibia a known commodity at the big-league level with four more years of control.
Syndergaard is an electric power arm but his inability to develop a consistent breaking pitch so far may eventually relegate him to the bullpen. Should he be moved, the Blue Jays would have traded away two of their so-called Big Three pitching prospects in the same off-season.
Combined with d’Arnaud plus Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino, all sent to the Marlins in last month’s blockbuster, the Blue Jays would have moved many of their most highly regarded prospects this winter, although the farm system still has some well-regarded prospects.
Their willingness to pay such a high price indicates how much the Blue Jays feel Dickey is an important and needed finishing piece.