Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Romero.
As unfathomable as that grouping would have appeared a month ago, it appears that today the likelihood of this being the starting rotation for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 is close to reality.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is reportedly set to make his third major off-season move by acquiring Dickey, the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner, in a seven-player swap with the New York Mets.
Fox Sports national baseball correspondent Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Sunday afternoon that the two teams had agreed to a deal in principle, contingent on the Blue Jays being able to work out a contract extension for Dickey. According to Rosenthal, the Jays have a 72-hour negotiating window to try to hammer out an extension with Dickey, which expires Tuesday at 2 p.m. (ET).
Neither the Blue Jays or the Mets have officially commented on the pending transaction.
Dickey, a knuckleballer who is 38, can become a free agent at the end of the 2013 major-league baseball season.
If the deal goes through it will only cement Toronto’s status as a favourite to win the American League East this coming season, if not the World Series.
The genesis of the deal, as first reported by the New York Post over the weekend, would see the Blue Jays receive Dickey, who went 20-6 with a 2.73 earned-run average over a league-best 233 2/3 innings pitched in 2012.
The Blue Jays would also receive fifth-year catcher Josh Thole, who only hit .234 with the Mets last season but was behind the plate for 27 of Dickey’s 33 starts, plus an unspecified minor-league prospect.
The price the Blue Jays are said to be willing to pay is steep – considered too steep in the eyes of some.
Along with backup catcher John Buck and an unspecified minor-leaguer, the Blue Jays are prepared to part ways with two of their blue-chip prospects in catcher Travis d’Arnaud and pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
D’Arnaud, 23, is rated as the top prospect in the Jays organization by Baseball America and was expected to make the jump to the big leagues at some point this coming season.
In 67 games at Triple-A Las Vegas last season, d’Arnaud hit .333 with 16 homers and 52 runs batted in before a knee injury ended his season in late June.
In Syndergaard, 20, the Blue Jays are surrendering a young, hard-throwing right-hander that many think can be a close to the top-of-the-order starter once he establishes himself in the major leagues.
Syndergaard, the 38th overall pick for Toronto in the 2010 draft, went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA in Single-A Lansing last season with 122 strikeouts in 103 <AF>2/3<XA> innings.
It has been a busy off-season for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who for the first time has seen details about a proposed deal leak out in the media before it has been made official.
With the addition of Dickey, the Blue Jays would boast a formidable starting rotation as they head into a new season believing they can obviously challenge the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Dickey’s arrival would also allow J.A. Happ, a potential fifth starter, to move back to the Blue Jays bullpen. That would be a nice addition, especially if reliever Darren Oliver decides to retire.
The Blue Jays already added Jose Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and Buck in a blockbuster trade last month with the Miami Marlins before signing free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Toronto’s payroll has already risen to over $100-million (all currency U.S.) for the first time in franchise history to around the $120-million mark and it can only rise should they strike an extension with Dickey.
Dickey, who is slated to make $5-million this coming season, supposedly scoffed at an offer from the Mets at $20-million over two years.
It is believed that Dickey is looking for a longer-term deal that will pay him in the range of $13-million annually.