Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey has reached an agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays on a two-year, $25 million extension that allowed Toronto and the New York Mets to complete their trade.
Said Dickey on Twitter: "Now that its official, I want to say that I don't have the words to express how grateful I am to you for the steadfast support and... Encouragement I received from all of you.Ive always felt that there was a connection beyond the uniform. Thank you for making me feel wanted."
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos called Dickey a "front-of-the-rotation starter."
"Clearly, he won the Cy Young. He's pitched like one the last three years," he said. "I think he doesn't get the credit and the respect he deserves because of his age and because of what he does throw. And I understand it's so rare. But there's so much overwhelming data and evidence to point to him continuing this success. He's gotten better every single year."
Dickey will be getting the dollar value that he had requested in failed extension talks with the Mets. Some of the money will be paid out immediately this year, along with his $5 million salary, in the form of a signing bonus to offset the difference in taxes between the United States and Canada. The sides are still haggling over how much money will be front-loaded, sources said.
Dickey will get a team option for $12 million for 2016.
Will Anthopoulos see the trade as a failure if the Jays are not a playoff team in 2013?
"I don't look at things that way at all," he said. "One, this team isn't built for 2013. That's why it was so imperative we got an extension with R.A. This team is built, at least, at a minimum, the next three to five years with who we have under contract right now."
News of an agreement was reported earlier by the Toronto Sun and FoxSports.com.
The Mets will receive highly regarded catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, Class A right-hander Noah Syndergaard, and 18-year-old outfielder Wuilmer Becerra from Toronto. The teams also will exchange catchers, with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas headed to Toronto and John Buck to the Mets.
Before talks broke down with New York, Dickey sought a two-year extension worth at least $26 million on top of the existing amount owed.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson said New York's "preference" was to re-sign Dickey, but the front office recognized the value a starting pitcher could bring back on the trade market.
"One of the reasons the negotiations were prolonged is we began to see forces of supply and demand at work, frankly," Alderson said. "On the one hand, we saw the value of starting pitching go up in terms of compensation. At the same time, we saw the supply start to go down in terms of availability. And so because we were proceeding on two tracks, at some point we had to wait and see what the value might be."
Anthopoulos understood that the Mets had the leverage.
"Sandy clearly had the option to sign the player back. Everyone knew that. That was made aware. And the player wanted to stay," he said. "I think Sandy, when d'Arnaud was on the table, he was probably on the table for 10 days. And it really didn't move anywhere. There was no traction. There was no dialogue. It just was not enough from his standpoint, as much as we valued Travis. ... Obviously Sandy had the player. He had the price. We had the ability to say no. But from our standpoint we looked at there's very few opportunities to get players like this that tie in so well with our club, that fit so well with our payroll. It's very, very rare."
Dickey will join a formidable Toronto rotation that also is projected to include newcomers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle via the much-talked-about trade with Miami earlier this offseason, as well as Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.
Still, Anthopoulos doesn't believe his starting rotation will run away with the AL East.
"I don't believe there's an openness in the AL East when you have the Yankees and the Red Sox. That's not to take anything away from Tampa and the Orioles, because the Orioles just made the playoffs and Tampa, I always say, might be the best-run organization in all of sports -- as high a compliment as I can pay anybody" he said. "But the fact that the Yankees and the Red Sox have the resources that they have, whatever the perception of it being open, can be closed in a minute with a trade, with a free-agent signing. ... I never worry about that. We as an organization don't. The focus is more on: What's the core of our team? Who is it? How old are they? What point are they in their careers?"
A journeyman pitcher who honed the knuckleball out of desperation and who was the first castoff to Mets minor league camp during spring training in 2010, Dickey at age 37 became a first-time All-Star, the franchise's first 20-game winner since Frank Viola and a Cy Young winner while composing a franchise-record 32 2/3-inning scoreless streak this past season. During 2012, he also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and opened up in a memoir about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
Dickey will become the fourth reigning Cy Young winner to be traded before the start of the next season, joining David Cone, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens.
D'Arnaud is the centerpiece of the deal for the rebuilding Mets, although the 20-year-old Syndergaard is viewed as a potential front-line starter in future seasons. D'Arnaud hit .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 67 games last season with Triple-A Las Vegas before his season ended June 25 when he suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee sliding into second base.
Alderson rejected the notion that the Mets were punting 2013 for the future with the trade.
"No. 1, we have made this trade, and we feel a number of the players that we've acquired -- John Buck, certainly -- and probably Travis d'Arnaud will make contributions in 2013," he said. "We can't quantify those at the moment. But we do have expectations about that. In addition, there's a lot of time between now and when we report to spring training. So we do expect to do some other things. We do expect to acquire some other players. We recognize we have holes to fill -- that we may have created a hole in our rotation, but we will address those. We certainly are not punting on 2013."
Buster Olney covers Major League Baseball for ESPN and ESPN The Magazine. Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.