The Mets decided to put the pieces together for future success rather than winning now with the trade of R.A. Dickey, and Sandy Alderson did a great job doing it.
The Mets traded the Cy Young winner along with catcher Josh Thole and backup catcher Mike Nickeas to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for top catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud, their top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, veteran catcher John Buck, and young outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra.
D’Arnaud is one of the top prospects in baseball and is expected to be the Mets catcher of the future with a good chance at starting behind the dish this season. In 67 games last season in AAA Las Vegas, D’Arnaud hit .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI. In 2011 for AA New Hampshire, the 23-year-old catcher hit .311 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI in 114 games. Clearly, the young backstop has a lot of potential and fills the Mets hole at catcher. This team has lacked a good power hitting catcher since Mike Piazza left, who happens to be the player D’Arnaud admired in his youth. While his defense has been deemed average at best, D’Arnaud is a huge acquisition that finally gives the Mets a guy who can hit behind the plate. Getting rid of Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas actually helps the Mets rather than hurt them. The fact that those are the only other players the Mets gave up besides Dickey makes this deal a steal.
Syndergaard was the second best Blue Jays prospect right behind D’Arnaud. So the Mets acquired the Blue Jays top two prospects for Dickey, just as Alderson had hoped. Syndergaard had a terrific season in Class-A Lansing going 8-5 with a 2.6 ERA, including 122 strikeouts in just 103.2 innings pitched. He’s only just begun. The 6′5″ power arm is just 20 years old and is already shining in the minor leagues. In two to three years, we may see Syndergaard join a starting rotation along side Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler.
Buck gives the Mets a veteran catcher with some pop to start until D’Arnaud is ready. Once D’Arnaud is ready to shine in the majors, Buck gives the Mets a much better second option at catcher than Thole and Nickeas. The 32-year-old hit just .192 with the Marlins last season, but has power. Buck had 12 home runs last season, 16 in 2011, and 20 in 2010. Also, don’t forget about the “non-elite” prospect the Mets get in this deal, Wuilmer Becerra. Becerra is a 6′4″ right-hand hitting outfielder and is just 18 years old. His season in the minor leagues ended after just 11 games when he was hit in the face by a pitch and broke his jaw. Becerra has a lot of time to spend in the minors to grow, but we could be hearing his name in four to five years.
Parting with the 38-year-old knuckleballer was tough for the Mets, but his age was a big factor. Dickey was tremendous last season going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Alderson could not work an extension out with Dickey essentially lowballing him with a 2-year, $20 million offer and Dickey was looking for $26 million. The Blue Jays pulled the trigger and made the trade and signed him to a 2-year, $25 million extension after he makes a bargain $5 million in 2013.
The Mets are building a young team that should have fans smiling to what looks to be a bright future. Signing David Wright to a long-term deal was the start. The Mets are building a team to win in the future with Wright, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Harvey, Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, and now D’Arnaud and Syndergaard. The pieces are coming together for a team that probably won’t contend in 2013, but 2014 and beyond can be the start of the Mets rise to the top of the NL East standings.
Now that Wright is signed and Dickey has been traded, the Mets need to go out and get a couple outfielders. That is their biggest weakness right now. First and foremost, they need to sign or acquire a power bat in the outfield like a Justin Upton or Cody Ross. Rumors say the Mets are interested in Grady Sizemore, but he is coming off knee surgery and won’t be ready to start the season. Alderson needs to use the money that hasn’t been spent this offseason to bring in at least two outfielders with one of them being a guy who can hit 20+ home runs. Terry Collins has the pieces in place, now management needs to look for some offense to put up some runs for this very solid pitching staff.