The Blue Jays off-season has been inspiring. Their moves are typically reserved for fantasy league when someone goes all in. The Jays' appear to have timed this move well with no other teams in the AL East aggressively improving. Most are retooling or sticking mostly with their rosters as is. Armed with a deep rotation and improved offense, it puts the Jays in position to win the division and more.
As for the most recent deal, R.A. Dickey adds another durable inning eater who is coming off of three consecutive seasons of displaying above average command and control of his knuckleball. The 2013 projection we have him for him with an ERA climbing back into the mid 3’s seems appropriate as regression in the strikeout department (8+ K/9 is a career high out of line with the context of his career) and a 80% left-on-base rate is simply unlikely to be sustained. Josh Thole will continue as Dickey’s personal catcher. The 26-year old is a platoon player with little pop. The lefties’ 2011 performance should be seen as his ceiling.
As for the Mets, one has to admire Sandy Alderson’s tenacity and patience to hold out for potential impact players whenever he deals a high profile veteran. The move makes sense for the Mets . Yes they lose an ace who was only slated to make $5 Million in 2013, but this is not a roster designed to compete with the Nationals, Braves, or Phillies. So, selling high on Dickey makes sense.
Travis D’Arnaud is recognized as the top catching prospect in the minors right now. The righty gets good reviews for his bat speed, power potential (20-25 HR per season), defense, and makeup. However, it will be interesting to see how D’Arnaud compares to the other catcher acquired by the Mets – John Buck. Buck was a highly regarded defensive catcher when he came up with 20+ HR potential. Unfortunately, Buck has been an inconsistent and overly aggressive hitter who regularly strikes out a fifth to a quarter of the time and owns a career .235 .303 .405 line. D’Arnaud strikes out right around that one-fifth mark and is a rather aggressive hitter too. While the nearly 24-year old has a short swing, it needs to be noted that he is a catcher (read: slow!) and that a realistic expectation should be for a .260 to .280 batting average line from him with a downside that he could indeed end up the next John Buck.
To provide some further grounding, It is worth noting that the player D’Arnaud, as the best hitting catcher the Mets will have in quite awhile, will draw comparisons to (and unfairly at that), is Mike Piazza. Piazza, however, was not just a power hitter, but a highly disciplined hitter who made contact over 85% of the time and it was that combination of abilities, not to mention 30-40 per season HR power, that allowed him to be a career .308 hitter. D’Arnaud may have hit over .300 in ultra-hitter friendly Las Vegas, but he has yet to show that kind of contact-making ability yet at the upper levels of the minors, let alone the Majors. Time will tell to see how much of an impact player D’Arnaud can actually be. Regardless, D’Arnaud will likely begin 2013 in Triple-A to work out the rust after coming back from injury, but could be up to stay in the Majors well before the All-Star break.
Noah Syndergaard also has high-impact potential for the Mets. The barely 20-year old hurler threw 103 innings in full-season ball where he showed a good feel for throwing strikes, a plus fastball, a curve and changeup with plus potential, and good mechanics. The righty could be the better of the two prospects, but at his age will need to prove to be durable and effective at the higher levels of the minors yet. Syndergaard will advance to A+ ball in 2013 and if all goes well, should arrive in the Majors in late 2015 or mid-2016 on a one-level at a time approach.
Wuilmer Becerra was the remaining prospect received by the Mets. The 17-year old has just 32 at-bats of professional experience and has some hit tools and power potential and was a highly regarded International Signing by the Jays. Right now it is too early to tell what exactly the Mets have in him.
As a result of the deal, the Mets will feature a rotation of Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Matt Harvey with Collin McHugh probably being the best current in-house option available. Jenrry Mejia, Chris Schwinden, and others will compete too. The Mets have not be reluctant to try veterans coming back from injuries (Chris Young, Chris Capuano, etc) in the recent past and it would not be surprising to see them go that route again too.
The Mets made another deal on Tuesday sending former top International signee Jefry Marte to the A’s for Collin Cowgill. Marte is a 21-year old third basemen with Double-A experience. The righty makes consistent contact and plays adequate defense, but has no speed or significant power to speak of. Cowgill was a sleeper heading into the 2012 after the A’s acquired him from Arizona in the Trevor Cahill deal. The righty possesses good plate discipline, solid defensive skills, and doubles power. Most likely Cowgill is Triple-A roster filler or a bench player, but a platoon of journeyman minor leaguers in Mike Baxter and Collin Cowgill could actually end up being quite solid, if given the opportunity.
Trading Cowgill was not the only move for the A’s. They signed Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal. The 30-year old is a career .302 hitter who makes consistent contact, but with gap power and a little speed. Nakajima is not a high-ceiling player and is more of an end-game flier on the hope he gets plenty of at-bats and helps in the batting average department.