Will R.A. Dickey earn Toronto Blue Jays’ 2016 team option?
Toronto Blue Jays ace-by-default R.A. Dickey is entering the final year on his contract, but the team holds a $12M option on the 40-year old with a $1M buyout for 2016. Given the young arms coming through the Toronto Blue Jays system and the potential needs entering next offseason, Dickey may need to go above and beyond expectations in 2015.
In his second year with the Blue Jays, Dickey dropped his ERA a half run from 4.21 to 3.71, pitching especially well throughout the later months of the season. A drop in his home runs allowed (35 to 26) was a driving force behind this, but how long can Dickey remain effective on a team whose starting CF is nearly half his age?
Dickey has begun to slowly draw the ire of Blue Jays fans for, among other things, the presence of his personal catcher Josh Thole and the suggestion that he has played a role in the alleged divide in the Blue Jays clubhouse. While I don’t see his role of “intellectual uncle” changing in the clubhouse, the arrival of Russell Martin could help to alleviate Dickey’s strain on the roster.
Entering Spring Training, Martin will be given an opportunity to catch Dickey, at the very least. I’m of the opinion that Josh Thole should be in the system but nowhere near the MLB roster, so if Martin can hold his own with the knuckleball then the decision should be simple. There has been much made of Martin’s ability to frame pitches, so I’ll be especially interested to see if that talent is transferrable to the knuckler, and to which extent.
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It is Dickey’s responsibility to make the Blue Jays’ $12M decision a difficult one, but other internal factors could impact this situation just as much. Mark Buehrle and his mammoth $20M salary are due to come off the books next offseason along with the nauseating $7.75M to Ricky Romero. I feel that I should apologize for even mentioning that. Add in salaries such as Dioner Navarro‘s $5M and Marco Estrada‘s $3.9M, the Toronto Blue Jays will could have several holes to fill in 2016, but plenty of cash to do so.
If Dickey is overtaken by younger talent such as Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez in the rotation, Alex Anthopoulos may choose to add his $12M to the pot and make a run at high-end free agents. This could include a younger replacement for Dickey, who still claims to have one more contract left before the end of his career.
Consider the current market for pitching in all of this, as well. $12M does not get a team what it should in many situations, and although Dickey will be 41 entering next season, it’s possible that he proves to be just valuable enough, especially if a young arm falters or is hit with an injury. Dickey is a known commodity to the Blue Jays, and although he isn’t much more than a #3 starter on most playoff teams, he seems to be a lock for 200.0+ innings with some level of quality.
Ideally, the situation will present itself where the Toronto Blue Jays can logically decline this option. The rotation, and possibly the clubhouse, could be better off if the $12M were allocated differently.