R.A. Dickey was supposed to be the missing piece. Jays fans looked at D’Arnaud and Syndergaard and saw two top prospects. Giving up two top prospects and the cost controlled years that come along with ’em is a pretty, pretty, pretty big deal.
Unfortunately, Dickey was not the missing piece. Dickey was a Cy Young winner, but not a perennial Cy Young contender. Dickey was a reasonably priced veteran. Dickey was Mark Buerhle without the contract. And, everyone knew it. Everyone in the front office had to see it coming. Even Dickey saw it coming.
R.A. Dickey re-upped for 25 million dollars over two years, plus a 12M option. That’s not Cy Young money. That’s a 2-Win player. Everything over and above two wins per year was gravy. Dickey was a 2 Win player before his 4.4 fWAR Cy Young year, and the projection models saw him as a 2-Win player in Toronto*.
ZiPS projected a 18% K-Rate in 2013 and Dickey delivered a 18.8% rate. Zips figured he’d float around a 3.89 ERA, and Dickey floated around 4.20. Dickey was basically Dickey, with some extra control issues. The walks have continued into this year, but Dickey’s still floating around his projected 4.00 ERA.
Alex Anthopoulos decided to take a low-risk gamble. Best case scenario, Dickey puts up a couple three or four win seasons and replicates his Cy Young year. Worst case scenario? Paying Dickey exactly market value.
The Astros gave Scott Feldman almost the same amount of money this past year. Even today if you had to choose for the next couple of years: Dickey vs. Feldman, you’re gambling on Dickey.
Considering the marginal cost of a win, it was definitely worth the gamble. The Jays were expected to contend in 2013 through 2016 while Jose Bautista and Edwin were both on team friendly contracts. In 2016, Bautista has a 14M option and EE has a 10M option. So, now’s the window and grabbing every extra win is well worth it.
*I really should be using RA9 calculated WAR for Dickey, but so it goes.