|Mets got Good return in Dickey Trade||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on December 23, 2012
But the reality is for the budget-strapped Mets, the extra $3 million per season that Dickey’s agent wanted per season (the Mets offered $20 million for two years, Dickey’s agent wanted $26 million) proved to be a gulf the two sides just couldn’t bridge. That seems a shame since the money certainly didn’t seem out of line for a player who just won a Cy Young award, especially with the state what free agent pitchers with quality arms are commanding.
However even though the Mets ownership is no longer on the financial brink, the cupboard isn’t exactly overflowing. The team budget is still going to be on the low end and Sandy Alderson just can’t spend money he isn’t allowed to spend. The Mets recently had to decide if they could afford to keep Wright and Dickey or just one. They stretched to try for both. But when push came to shove, it was Wright, the player they had to sign who they locked up, and Dickey who they traded for the best return possible.
Photo by Slgckgc, used under creative commons license.
And that’s what they did. As anyone who ever pays attention to the game outside the game, the business of baseball, knows the general manager position for any team isn’t a job with a huge amount of job security. The GM has to make the team better every year despite budget constraints, even if it means making unpopular decisions.
Trading away Dickey, who could still turn out to be the best knuckleballer the game has seen in a long time, is in fact a very unpopular move. Still it’s unlikely to ever be regarded in the same strata as trading away Tom Seaver or Nolan Ryan is.
In this market the Mets did well -- very well. They got two solid prospects, including Travis d’Arnaud, the top catching prospect in all of baseball, and he’s just about Major League ready, if not already there. D’Arnaud is a 23 year old who hit .300+ at both Class AA and AAA over the last two seasons while hitting 37 home runs and 51 doubles in that same span. He’s had a very strong OBP (.371 & .380) over that time too and he projects as a better middle of the lineup hitter than anyone besides Wright on the current team.
And if d’Arnaud doesn’t break camp with the Mets in 2013, the Mets acquired another catcher, 32-year-old veteran John Buck, who’ll be able to fill the role, and later slide into a backup role. Buck is nothing special in terms of talent. He’ll never hit for average but possesses 15-20 home run power if he plays 130+ games.
However for the deal to really pan out as a big win the Mets would need 6-5 flame throwing righty Noah Syndergaard to develop into the pitcher they think he can be. He’s very much a work in progress since he’s yet to pitch above Class A.
However he’s caught the eye of a number of teams including Oakland who tried to get him thrown into a package when they tried to shop Gio Gonzalez and by the Texas Rangers. Provided he can avoid injury he looks like he’ll see the Majors in the next few years, maybe as a Met, but he could also prove to be a valuable trade chip going forward.
Best of all in terms of the business aspect of the game, these players are both and controllable for at least the next six years. That should allow the Mets the opportunity to grow back into a contender, through the development of players and by offering them more financial flexibility for free agent signings going forward. Admittedly the Mets also got cash thrown in, ostensibly to pay the salary of John Buck, and another prospect who has yet to be officially named.
It might not seem like a lot for a Cy Young winner, but more proven pitchers have gone for far less. In return the Mets got two, maybe even three top prospects, and it’s very likely that d’Arnaud will play for the Mets in 2013 and be the everyday starter in 2014. His projection as a top catcher isn’t assured, but it doesn’t seem far fetched at all. If Syndergaard pans out and the other prospect proves to be someone worthwhile the trade could really turn out to be a steal.
All in all the Mets got more in return for Dickey than the Rays did for James Shields. That will have to be some comfort for fans as they look forward to what seems likely to be another brutal season. They can still root for Dickey and see him when he visits the crosstown rivals, but hopefully this deal will provide a light at the end of the tunnel, and won’t prove to be painful as the deals where the team sent Seaver or Ryan off for guys who never quite panned out.