Blue Jays agree to terms with Dickey, finalize trade
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have officially acquired Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, adding the 38-year-old knuckleballer to an improved starting rotation.
The New York Mets traded Dickey to Toronto for a package featuring prized young catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
The Blue Jays then signed the pitcher to a two-year contract extension for US$29 million, with a $12-million option for the 2016 season.
Dickey was already signed for US$5.25 million next year.
The Blue Jays also acquired catcher Josh Thole and minor-league catcher Mike Mickeas, while the Mets received catcher John Buck, minor-league right-hander Noah Syndergaard and minor-league outfielder Wuilmer Beccera.
Dickey was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA last season, capping his rapid rise from the majors’ scrap heap to an ace pitcher. He did it by perfecting a way to throw his floater faster than previous knuckleballers, and tossing it with exceptional control.
“We clearly are convinced this can be a front line starter for us,” said Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos on a conference call Monday night.
“I don’t think he gets the credit or the respect he deserves because of his age, and because of what he does throw. And I understand because it’s so rare.
“But there’s so much overwhelming data and evidence that points to him continuing to have this success.”
Dickey is set to become part of a stellar rotation that includes recently acquired Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle and returning starters Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
“Welcome to the Jays,” Romero tweeted. “This pumps me up!!! One goal in mind... Win!!! That’s all!!!”
Dickey thanked Mets fans for their backing on Twitter, while saying he was all set to pitch for the Toronto.
“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,” Dickey tweeted. “Thank you for making me feel wanted.”
“Looking forward to a new chapter with the Jays.”
The Blue Jays have missed the playoffs since winning their second straight World Series crown in 1993, and have boldly moved to reshape a team that went 73-89 last season in the rugged AL East.
Last month, they acquired a high-priced trio of all-stars — Johnson, Buehrle and former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes — in a 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins.
Toronto then signed free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, an all-star outfielder with San Francisco whose season ended when he was suspended 50 games for a positive testosterone test.
Thole gives the Blue Jays a catcher who is familiar with handling Dickey’s knuckleball. He joined a lineup that features former home run champ Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers last season.
Thole, 26, hit .234 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 104 games last season.
D’Arnaud turns 24 in February. He hit .333 at triple-A Las Vegas with 16 homers and 52 RBIs before tearing a knee ligament trying to break up a double play in June.
He has been an all-star at several levels during his climb through the minors.
The Los Angeles Angels and Texas also had been interested in Dickey before the Blue Jays swooped in.
Popular with Mets fans, Dickey perturbed team management when he spoke about his contract situation last week during a club event at Citi Field for children displaced from their schools by Superstorm Sandy.
Dickey said he enjoyed playing for the Mets and added it would be “disappointing” if he went through his option year without a new deal and became a free agent.
“If that’s the decision that they make, I feel like it would be unfortunate because it probably is going mean that I’m not going to be back,” Dickey said then. “And that would be sad.”
Buck was an all-star with Toronto in 2010. The 32-year-old hit .192 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs for Miami last season, then was part of the big trade between Marlins and Blue Jays.
The 20-year-old Syndergaard went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA for class-A Lansing. The 18-year-old Becerra hit .250 with four RBIs in 11 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League.
Nickeas split last season with the Mets and triple-A Buffalo. The 29-year-old hit .174 with one homer and 13 RBIs for New York.