Monday, December 17, 2012
Conference call recaps on Dickey trade
By Adam Rubin
Here's a summary of the topics covered on conference calls by Sandy Alderson and Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos:
• Toronto approached Mets at the GM meetings in early November about Dickey, but there was no substantive trade discussion until a week before the winter meetings. At the winter meetings, Anthopoulos thought the deal was dead. The teams ultimately signed an agreement on the players involved Thursday afternoon. Anthopoulos and Jays manager Jay Gibbons met with Dickey in Nashville on Saturday afternoon, after MLB granted a negotiating window. Anthopoulos and agent Bo McKinnis agreed to the extension deal at 6 p.m. Sunday.
• Alderson said it is a difficult answer about whether he would have preferred this trade package to Dickey signing on the Mets' terms (reportedly two years, $20 million). But he said the offers the Mets made were genuine, and had Dickey accepted, the knuckleballer would have returned. Also, Alderson said that had he not received the trade package that ultimately was agreed upon, Dickey would have been back in 2013.
"That's very difficult to say," Alderson said. "One of the reasons the negotiations were prolonged is we began to see forces of supply and demand at work, frankly. On the one hand, we saw the value of starting pitching go up in terms of compensation. At the same time, we saw the supply start to go down in terms of availability. And so because we were proceeding on two tracks, at some point we had to wait and see what the value might be. But if you go back to the very beginning, we stated it was our desire to re-sign R.A. It was. That was our preference. I think if we got to the point where he had agreed to our number, he would have signed and, in the absence of a discussion about a possible trade, I don't think we would have felt comfortable trading him after he had agreed."
• Anthopoulos would not have agreed to the trade without an extension with Dickey, but he asked Alderson about Dickey's contract demands early enough in the process and was satisfied the parameters were workable. "We definitely needed to have a window to extend him," Anthopoulos said.
• Travis d'Arnaud had been part of trade proposal for 10 days. Alderson did not accept until Noah Syndergaard was included. Anthopoulos said he understood, because when he was shopping Roy Halladay years ago, he wanted multiple blue-chip prospects back, not solely relying on one primary prospect.
"I think it comes down to how you evaluate R.A., and that's going to define the result of this trade for us -- how he performs," Anthopoulos said. "We evaluate him as a front-of-the-rotation starter. Clearly, he won the Cy Young. He's pitched like one the last three years. I think he doesn't get the credit and the respect he deserves because of his age and because of what he does throw. And I understand it's so rare. But there's so much overwhelming data and evidence to point to him continuing this success. He's gotten better every single year."
Anthopoulos added on the Mets' leverage in talks: "Sandy clearly had the option to sign the player back. Everyone knew that. That was made aware. And the player wanted to stay. I think Sandy, when d'Arnaud was on the table, he was probably on the table for 10 days. And it really didn't move anywhere. There was no traction. There was no dialogue. It just was not enough from his standpoint, as much as we valued Travis. ...
"Obviously Sandy had the player. He had the price. We had the ability to say no. But from our standpoint we looked at there's very few opportunities to get players like this that tie in so well with our club, that fit so well with our payroll. It's very, very rare. When you look at the frontline starters that have been moved in the last year 10 years -- Halladay, Sabathia, Santana, Greinke, Cliff Lee -- all of them either were rentals, hit free agency and signed monster contracts with full no-trades or, in the case or Santana and Halladay, had full no-trade clauses and dictated where they went and ultimately signed very large contracts."
• John Buck, owed $6 million, was included in the deal to balance out money. The Jays could not increase payroll. Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas were attractive parts regardless because they have experience catching Dickey. Anthopoulos watched the "Knuckleball!" documentary and heard Thole speak about the difficulty catching the pitch and did not want to be auditioning catchers for Dickey's batterymate.
• Alderson insisted the Mets are not punting 2013. He said they would acquire a starting pitcher -- albeit not a No. 1 -- via free agency or trade whom he would virtually guarantee a rotation spot. Jenrry Mejia would be insurance, not a fifth-starter competitor for that addition.
• D'Arnaud may or may not start 2013 at the major league, but the fact he missed the second half of last season with a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee might tilt it toward Triple-A since he missed a lot of time. D'Arnaud has been examined in person by Mets doctors. He never needed surgery, since that's not the norm for a partial tear.
"I talked to Travis a little bit earlier today and I told him he would come to camp and we would see what happens," Alderson said. "We've got a very capable catcher in John Buck. ... Certainly having not played through the second half of last season, without having played any winter ball, everything will be predicated on how he performs in spring training. So we'll just have to see how that goes. At the same time, we do expect Travis is very close to the major leagues. And if he doesn't make it out of spring training, we would expect to see him at some point very soon thereafter -- probably in 2013."
• Alderson insisted the Mets aren't punting 2013. "No. 1, we have made this trade, and we feel a number of the players that we've acquired -- John Buck, certainly -- and probably Travis d'Arnaud will make contributions in 2013. We can't quantify those at the moment. But we do have expectations about that. In addition, there's a lot of time between now and when we report to spring training. So we do expect to do some other things. We do expect to acquire some other players. We recognize we have holes to fill -- that we may have created a hole in our rotation, but we will address those. We certainly are not punting on 2013."
• Alderson added the organization's finances were a non-factor in the Dickey decision. "This means nothing about the Mets' finances," the GM said. "This was a baseball decision. And at some point the lines crossed. We did prefer to sign him at the outset. We felt we could sign him. I still felt confident we could sign him as we got into the winter meetings. But it also became clear that against the backdrop of a very hot market for pitching, his value in a possible trade was also skyrocketing. ... His value in trade to us at some point we felt exceeded our ability to keep him here over a one- or possibly two- or three-year period."
• On replacing Dickey, Alderson said: "We're not going to replace him with a No. 1 starter in return, but we're going to have to find someone who can give us some of those wins. We also have to hope the team improves in other areas to offset R.A.'s loss. ... R.A. was a very popular player. I'm sure he would have been very popular next year here. I'm sure he'll be popular in Toronto, and for good reason. On the other hand, our popularity as a team, our popularity among fans, our attendance is going to be a function of winning and losing. And winning and losing consistently over time. Those are the kinds of things we have to take into account. ...
"I'm hopeful in coming years that our overall popularity will be more a function of our success than individuals. But, look, I recognize this is an entertainment business. It was great to have R.A. here, and yet we felt in the best interest of the organization and the long-term popularity of the team that this was the right thing to do."