MLB

Time is now for Jays in AL East

Watch: Ken Rosenthal on the Mets' trade of R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays.
Watch: Ken Rosenthal on the Mets' trade of R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays.
Share This Story

Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

MORE>>
 
   
 

That’s twice now. Twice teams have done the unthinkable, at least by recent baseball standards. Twice teams have said, “Enough with our precious prospects. We’re going for it.”

MLB

PICK 'EM

When it comes to predicting division winners, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi only agree on one thing.

First, it was the Kansas City Royals, trading one of the game’s most promising young hitters, Wil Myers, and a highly regarded young pitcher, Jake Odorizzi, in a deal for Tampa Bay right-handers James Shields and Wade Davis.

Now, it’s the Toronto Blue Jays, who are moving the game’s top young catcher, Travis D’Arnaud, and a gifted young pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, in a deal for National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

I liked the Royals’ trade because they acquired 40 percent of their 2013 rotation without giving up a single major leaguer. I’ve had a more difficult time coming around to the Jays’ deal. But I get it, and I applaud it. In fact, I’m starting to love it.

Dickey passed a physical Monday after agreeing to a two-year, $25 million extension — and the sheer idea of this trade is a window into the Jays’ soul. Once general manager Alex Anthopoulos made his blockbuster with the Miami Marlins, there was no turning back. A team is either in or it’s out. The middle is no place to be.

The New York Yankees are old. The Boston Red Sox are in transition. The Blue Jays’ time is now, even if this all seems a little rushed, even if the team’s threshold for Dickey arguably should have been one top prospect, not two.

Make no mistake: There is boom-or-bust potential in this trade, for both sides. The Jays could end up like the 2012 Marlins, champions of the offseason, a disaster during the regular season. But this is the right moment for them to strike, and Dickey — odd as it may sound — is the right man for them at the right time.

SPRING FEVER

Miss baseball already? There's plenty going on. Mark your calendar with these important offseason dates.

Forget that Dickey is 38, and that he’s a knuckle-baller. Consider his performance — not just last season, when he won the National League Cy Young Award, but the past three years, when he averaged more than 200 innings per season and produced a 2.95 ERA.

This isn’t a fluke, folks. If Dickey was a conventional thrower — and yes, a bit younger — few would question this trade. Dickey’s strikeout rate increased in each of the past three seasons. His hit rate decreased, and his walk rate remained stable and low.

He’s athletic, he logs innings, he throws strikes. A rival executive puts it best, saying that Dickey has “found something.” The Jays are banking on him continuing his success — and likely on a below-market contract. Remember, they won a similar bet on right fielder Jose Bautista, whom they signed to a five-year, $65 million extension after a breakout season.

D’Arnaud, 23, and Syndergaard, 20, no doubt are talented, the Jays’ Nos. 1 and 3 prospects, according to Baseball America. But remember Justin Smoak? Jesus Montero? All of those other can’t-miss prospects who supposedly were too good to trade? Well, stuff happens. Not always, but often enough.

D’Arnaud has suffered a number of injuries — he had back trouble in 2010, suffered two concussions in ’11, tore a knee ligament last season. If he stays healthy, he should develop into a potential All-Star, if not quite Buster Posey or Matt Wieters. But the Jays evidently are comfortable with J.P. Arencibia and Josh Thole, whom they would acquire in this trade.

Syndergaard is likely to start the season in High Single A, several years away from the majors. He needs to develop his breaking ball. Some believe his fastball is too straight. And even if he reaches his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation starter, it won’t be until most of the Jays’ current stars are in decline.

Too late.

CASH COWS

See which MLB stars earn the highest annual salaries, who's in the $150 million club and who makes the most at each position.

The Jays entered the offseason knowing they were in a rare position, with two top sluggers — right fielder Jose Bautista and first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion — under club control through 2016.

Anthopoulos, who became GM in October 2009, initially did a terrific job collecting draft picks and hoarding prospects. Last offseason, he balked at acquiring left-hander Gio Gonzalez from Oakland for some of the youngsters he has moved this offseason — Syndergaard, lefty Justin Nicolino, outfielder Jake Marisnick. The Jays, in Anthopoulos’ estimation, weren’t ready then. They are now.

Such was the logic of the blockbuster with the Marlins, in which Anthopoulos acquired four veterans — shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hander Josh Johnson, left-hander Mark Buehrle and infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio. All but Johnson are under club control for at least two more seasons. Reyes, 29, and Bonifacio, 27, are in their primes.

The signings of free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera and infielder Maicer Izturis only added to the Jays’ win-now motif, but the rotation still was not good enough. The addition of Dickey will change all that — assuming, of course, that the Jays are getting the same Dickey who pitched so well for the Mets the past three years.

The sample size is large enough for such a leap of faith. The success rate of prospects is small enough to risk trading d’Arnaud and Syndergaard.

The Jays, like the Royals, are going for it — no more waiting, no more playing to finish third, no more overvaluing prospects.

The time is now.

Tagged: Royals, Mariners, Blue Jays, Mets, Giants, Marlins, R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Josh Johnson, Buster Posey

More Stories From Ken Rosenthal

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..