Just a month after their blockbuster 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins, the Toronto Blue Jays have made another major offseason splash. Having agreed to a 2-year, $29 million contract extension through 2015 with reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, the Jays have landed the 38-year-old knuckleballer from the New York Mets as part of a multi-player deal. In return, the Mets will receive blue-chip catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, promising pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, veteran catcher John Buck and minor league outfielder Wuilmer Beccera from Toronto, with the Jays getting back catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to along with Dickey.
As a sporadic follower of baseball — truth be told, my interest probably peaked with Louis Gonzalez’ World Series-winning base hit in 2001 — my reaction to last month’s Jays-Marlins trade was that of cautious optimism. Though the deal netted the Jays several significant pieces, it was hard to see how one transaction could transform the team from a 73-win club in 2012 to an instant contender in 2013.
However, with the acquisitions of Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami, and now Dickey, the Jays have completely retooled the front line of their pitching staff. I know enough to know that that can transform a ball club, particularly one that already boasts capable starters such as Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero (who aside from last year’s disastrous season, has been an All-Star caliber pitcher). Together, it’s enough to make even the most bitter of Toronto sports enthusiasts feel a little less gloom and doom.
Well, almost. I wouldn’t be a true Toronto fan without examining this deal from every possible (negative) angle. Dickey is 38 years old. Switching leagues can be a tricky business. The asking price — two of the Jays’ top prospects — is a steep one, and one that feels a tad too familiar to a trade Maple Leafs fans have been ruing for the past several years.
You’ll have to forgive my innate pessimism. It’s been a long time since a major Toronto sports franchise* has positioned itself to win, much less actually won anything. After years of smart, subtle maneuvering, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has gone all in for 2013. It might take me a while to figure out what that’s supposed to feel like.
*- Shout out to the CFL champion Toronto Argos!