At least for the time being, the situations regarding the two Cy Young winners in baseball are quite different. After David Price won the AL award, the Tampa Bay Rays have shown no interest in all in trading him even as they know that extending him beyond his three remaining years under team control may be unlikely. But regarding NL winner R.A. Dickey, things are much more complicated. The New York Mets are pursuing a two-year extension for the 38 year old knuckleballer, but frustrating appears to be building up for both sides in the talks and the Mets have looked into trading Dickey for the right price. A Dickey trade may not be so likely because the Mets want serious value in return for him and teams may be reluctant to deal multiple frontline prospects for a 38 year old pitcher, even one who is a member of the seemingly ageless knuckleballer fraternity, but it’s definitely a possibility and one of the most interesting things to watch the rest of this offseason will be what ends up happening to Dickey.
Every team in baseball would be interested to acquire Dickey at the right place. Accordingly, when Joel Sherman of the New York Post sent out this tweet, it was not so surprising.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 12, 2012
But wait a second… all five AL East teams inquired. That includes the Rays. Why would they have any interest in acquiring Dickey? The answer is simple: efficiency. Dickey made just 4.25 million dollars in 2012, a touch below the 4.25 million dollars that Price made, but the difference is that Dickey will make just 5 million dollars in 2012 while Price’s salary will nearly double. No, the Rays would not have considered for a second to offer the Mets a swap of the two Cy Young Award winners. But they had another pitcher that was getting a bit too expensive for them: James Shields. The Rays traded Shields along with Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals, receiving Wil Myers and three other talented prospects in return. But prior to that trade, would the Rays have considered offering the Mets straight-up trade of Shields for Dickey should extension talks between Dickey and the Mets fall apart?
Dickey’s 5 million dollar salary will be less than half the 10.25 million dollars that Shields will make in 2012, and almost everyone would agree that Dickey is a far superior pitcher than Shields. From the Mets side, they may getting a worse pitcher, but at least they’re getting an additional year of team control. Dickey for Shields straight-up is likely not a trade the Mets would do. But how about say Shields, pitching prospect Alex Colome, and infield prospect Tim Beckham for Dickey? The trade would give the Mets the luxury of knowing that their top pitcher would be around for two more seasons with an extension possible (Shields has already said that he would consider an extension in Kansas City) and also two pieces for the future (even if Colome has to become a reliever, the Mets need a ton of bullpen help). On the Rays side, the trade would give them the best 1-2 in any rotation in baseball and make an already outstanding pitching staff even better. They would only have him for a year, but it would take the pressure off Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore for one more year before they rely on them slotting right behind Price in their rotation in 2014. In theory, it seems like a trade that might make sense for both sides and would at least have to be considered for a second before being completely thrown out the window.
Really, this hypothetical trade really doesn’t make any sense because it would be the Rays doing something they have never really done: head into “win-now mode.” They would put all the pressure on their team to win next season without receiving any pieces for the future. We saw in the Shields trade that actually materialized how the Rays may have taken their foot off the accelerator a little bit for 2013 but received prospects with definite ability to improve significantly moving forward. If the Rays instead traded Shields and more for Dickey, they would be doing the exact opposite. Why would they possibly do that? Also, if the Mets were to trade Dickey, it would be a major surprise to baseball fans everywhere and a big public relations hit for them. Dickey and the Mets are far apart in talks right now, but you have to expect that more compromise is coming and Dickey will be spending at least the next three years in Queens. It’s hard to imagine the Mets giving up on extension talks and trading Dickey anywhere, and Tampa Bay would be right up there for the most unlikely place for them to possibly send him. A trade that would have sent R.A. Dickey to the Rays is something interesting to discuss but your conclusion would be the same as your knee-jerk reaction- it doesn’t make any sense.