The R.A. Dickey trade is the story that just will not go away for the Mets. Thursday there was a report that the Mets could have gotten the same package of Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard from Toronto for Jonathon Niese instead of Dickey. The Mets made the right deal.
I like Dickey, but let’s face it, the guy is 38 years old. He probably has a couple of more good years in him, but he will likely not fall into the “knuckleballers can pitch for ever” category of Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield because Dickey only started throwing the knuckler a few years ago. Therefore, he’s had more wear and tear on his arm than those career-long knuckleball throwers.
Niese is only 26 and is just entering his prime; his best years are ahead of him. He made great strides last year, especially the fact that he finished a season healthy for the first time. He might not have the stuff of an ace, but he can be a solid number two for the next decade if everything falls into place. Besides, the Mets don’t need an ace — Zack Wheeler or Matt Harvey, or both, are expected to fill that role.
There is also the fact that Jonathon Niese is signed to a very reasonable contract. He is guaranteed $24 million over the next four years. If his two options are picked up, Niese will make $45 million over the next six seasons, for an average of $7.5 million per season. That sounds way better than the $36 million Dickey will make over the next three seasons (if his 2016 option is picked up at $12 million).
Dickey is great for a “win now” type of team like the Blue Jays. For better or worse, the Mets are not preparing to win now. They are building for the future, and Jonathon Niese is an excellent building block for that hopefully winning future.