On the face of it, trading the reigning Cy Young award winner, who is scheduled to make “only” $5 million next season, seems like an absolutely terrible idea. Thing is, RA Dickey isn’t your typical reigning Cy Young award winner. He’s a 38 year old journey man who caught lightning in a bottle during his time in Queens. A free agent after next season and in line for quite a pay raise, the most logical thing for the New York Mets to do is give Dickey the $30 million he’s reportedly asking for and lock him down for the next three seasons. RA is asking fair market price for his services, he’s not trying to extort the Mets, and they really should pay the guy that is the best thing to happen to them in about a decade.
However, we’re talking about the Mets here so the most logical course of action is also the least likely. That said, the deal the Mets are rumored to be working on involves shipping Dickey to Toronto in exchange for a package of prospects centered around catcher Travis d’Arnaud. If the Mets are going to insist on not paying Dickey and trading him instead, they could do a whole lot worse than d’Arnaud.
Travis d’Arnaud was ranked #6 on ESPN’s Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects ranking in 2012 for good reason. He’s a solid defensive catcher who calls a good game and his bat plays at the big league level. Law projects him to be a 25-30 homer guy. Best of all, he’s just about ready right now.
For the Mets, d’Arnaud would be a major acquisition at this stage of the franchise’s development. Dickey is a stud, the best pitcher in the league last season, but he couldn’t help the Mets contend. With their roster as currently constituted, and the competition in the division–from the stacked Washington Nationals to the Atlanta Braves to the aging but strong Philadelphia Phillies–the Mets are a very long way from legitimate playoff contention. Signing Dickey to a two or three year extension would be primarily for public relations purposes and to put butts in the seats. There’s some value to that for sure, but d’Arnaud would give the team a real shot down the road.
The young d’Arnaud has the potential to be the Mets’ Buster Posey. The Orioles (Matt Weiters) and Giants (Posey) just proved you can win when building around a young, dynamic, catcher. In addition, the Mets just signed third basemen David Wright to a long term, lucrative extension and a Wright and d’Arnaud core is one they can build around.
Catcher and third base are two of the tougher positions to fill, and with youth and poise, the Mets would have a dynamic core that could be special. Certainly, GM Sandy Alderson would have a ton of work left to do. Anchored by a dubious Johan Santana in the final year of his deal, the starting rotation would need to be rebuilt. The Mets still need to figure out Ike Davis, if he can be the type of player they hope. If the pieces fall right, there could be an incredibly strong middle of the lineup in Flushing right around 2015.