After days of speculation the Jays have finalized a deal that will bring reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto from the New York Mets in exchange for the franchise's top two prospects in Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.
It's a trade that not only solidifies the Jays five-man rotation as arguably the best in Major League Baseball, and makes the Jays a legitimate World Series contender, but it's yet another statement to fans of the franchise that the waiting game is over.
Rumors of the Jays eyeing Dickey originally surfaced at the MLB winter meetings earlier in December, but talks seemed to pick up last week and it was announced Sunday that a deal was in place and hinged on whether Dickey would ink a contract extension with the Jays that would keep him with the organization past the 2013 season. The team announced Monday that Alex Anthopoulos followed through on his attempt to extend the 38-year-old knuckleballer signing him to a two-year $25 million deal. Mets reserve catcher Josh Thole and veteran Jays catcher John Buck are also expected to be included in the deal.
While at first glance the Jays ability to sign Dickey solidifies the team's five-man rotation and brings in a bona fide ace that has shown an ability to win 20 games at the major league level — in 2012 he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts — not all Jays fans are content with the deal.
Travis d'Arnaud, the 23-year-old catcher who spent the 2012 season with the Jays AAA affiliate in Las Vegas is considered to be the best catching prospect in baseball. He was originally acquired from Philadelphia as a part of a package in exchange for Roy Halladay. In 67 games in the Pacific Coast League last season d'Arnaud hit .333 along with 16 home runs and 52 RBI.
Syndergaard on the other hand was the franchise's top pitching prospect and spent the 2012 season with the franchise's A affiliate in Lansing. The 6-foot-5 right-hander went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA and his fastball topped 100 mph at points last season.
Giving up two top prospects mixed in with the fact that the 2012 season was really the first overly impressive year for Dickey has some worried that maybe the Jays gave up too much for some short-term success. And at 38 there's no guarantee Dickey will return to CY young form in 2013.
But Toronto had already committed to a 'win now' mentality when they took on $160 million in salary in the twelve-player deal with the Marlins that brought Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto. In order to take the next step in becoming a true contender Jays ownership and management understood the importance of adding another arm and to bring in a pitcher of Dickey's caliber there had to be a willingness to part with pieces of the future. And furthermore while it's nice to know the Jays had one of the best prospects in baseball in d'Arnaud, it's impossible to say whether or not he'll live up to expectations in the major leagues. Same goes for Syndergaard.
Ironically it's not the first time the Jays and Mets have exchanged prospect for pitcher. In August of 1992 the two teams agreed to a deal that sent prized prospect Jeff Kent to New York in exchange for right-hander David Cone. Kent went on to be a major league all-star and could be a future Hall of Fame player but Cone helped the Jays to a World Series.
If Dickey can lead the Jays deep into the post-season for the next couple of seasons it's hard to believe that anyone will argue that the franchise made the wrong deal in parting with d'Arnaud and Syndergaard.
The Jays are trying to win, and they're trying to win now. You can't fault them for that.