With several options at the Toronto Blue Jays’ disposal for the starting rotation in 2016, the team could trade veteran knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey, Jeff Blair of Sportsnet tweeted.
Not sure the lads are done. Scout tells me Dickey in play.
— Jeff Blair (@SNJeffBlair) January 9, 2016
Dickey, 41, has spent the last three seasons as an anchor of the Blue Jays’ rotation. While he’s not the measuring stick of talent, Dickey has been a model of consistency during his tenure in Toronto.
Originally acquired from the New York Mets in the trade that sent Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to the Amazin’s, Dickey has averaged 13 wins, 218 innings, and a 3.94 ERA for the Blue Jays. While those numbers pale in comparison to his National League Cy Young award-winning numbers in 2012 (20-6, 2.73 ERA, 233.2 innings), Dickey is still an effective, innings-eater.
In 2015, Dickey went 11-11 with a 3.91 ERA in 214-and-one-third innings.
Also, due to Dickey being a knuckleball pitcher, his arm does not experience the wear and tear a traditional pitcher’s arm would. Therefore, Dickey’s age should not be an issue for the rest of his career.
For teams interested in acquiring Dickey’s services, the last image of the right-hander seen in 2015 was the Kansas City Royals knocking him out of Game of the NLCS after less than two innings. Dickey gave up five runs (four earned) en route to a 14-2 Blue Jays loss.
Dickey spoke to National Post after the game, calling the start an “anomaly.”
“This is my 103rd start for the Blue Jays. That’s the first time I’ve gone that short. It was the anomaly for sure, but it’s a poor time to have the anomaly.”
So far this offseason, the Blue Jays have signed veteran left-hander J.A. Happ to a three-year deal and acquired Jesse Chavez from the Oakland Athletics. Partnered with incumbents such as Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchinson, and Marco Estrada, that would mean the Blue Jays have six starters for five spots.
It’s also possible the team moves 23-year-old Aaron Sanchez back into a starting role. Sanchez was a versatile commodity last year, appearing in 41 games (11 starts) for Toronto last year. He went 7-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 92-and-one-third innings.
However, flip-flopping Sanchez between the rotation and bullpen could prove to be a hindrance for Sanchez, and the team is going to be careful in its handling of the young righty.
“I think [Sanchez] could be a cornerstone player for this organization,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters, including Nick Ashbourne of Sportsnet. “So we need to make that right decision. It’s tough because, if he’s in the bullpen this year, it’s tough to turn him back into a starter because he’s really still developing his secondary pitches.”
Ashbourne mentions in the article that Sanchez’s results as a starter, while solid to the naked eye (5-4 record and 3.55 ERA), were not as promising as the numbers dictate. Sanchez’s propensity to walk batters (4.3 BB/9 in 2015) was a big detriment to his development, thus resulting in the Blue Jays inserting him into the pen.
Trading Dickey would enable the Blue Jays to perhaps experiment with Sanchez as a starter because “simple logic is that 200 good innings in the rotation trumps 60 great innings in relief,” Ashbourne writes.
For his career, Dickey sports a 100-93 record with a 3.97 ERA in 1,714 innings between the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, Mets, and Blue Jays.
It’s unclear if any teams have contacted the Blue Jays to discuss a potential Dickey trade, but teams such as the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Royals have been mentioned recently as teams looking for starting pitching upgrades.
[Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]