The first of the Blue Jays’ free agents has signed with another club, as R.A. Dickey has joined the Atlanta Braves.
It didn’t go as well as many Blue Jays fans had hoped, but R.A. Dickey was a positive contributor in Toronto during his tenure. The knuckleballer was a free agent at season’s end, and has signed a one-year contract to join the Atlanta Braves, with a club option for 2018. The terms have not yet been disclosed.
The 2012 NL Cy Young Winner (while with the Mets) finishes 49- 52 with a 4.05 ERA in 131 games while with the Blue Jays. For his career, he is 110-108 with a 4.01 ERA over 369 games, 269 of which were starts. He joined the Blue Jays prior to the 2013 season along with Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, in a trade that sent Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to the Mets (as well as John Buck, and Wuilmer Becerra). Having just won the Cy Young, Dickey commanded a big trade package, and the Blue Jays sent significant prospects in order to acquire him.
While he never contended for the AL Cy Young while in Toronto, the Tennesee native was a work horse for the Blue Jays. He topped the 200 innings pitched mark three out of four seasons in Toronto, and did it every season from 2011-2015. He fell short with 169.2 innings this season, but was skipped in the rotation during the season’s final month in favour of new acquisition, Francisco Liriano.
Dickey turned 42 after the season ended, and will join the Braves as the oldest active major leaguer. He throws a knuckleball as his primary pitch, so age and velocity aren’t the same factors for him as they are for a traditional pitcher. His repertoire was not an ideal fit for the Rogers Centre in Toronto, so it’s possible he improves on his numbers while moving to the new SunTrust Park, Atlanta’s new stadium set to open next season.
Atlanta GM John Coppolella and President John Schuerholz had expressed their desire to bring in starting pitching, and they were the first to sign a free agent starter this offseason. Dickey will join a rotation likely to feature Julio Teheran, Josh Collmenter and possibly some youngsters, so his veteran presence will be welcomed. The veteran is familiar with the NL East from his time with the Mets, and will look to improve his numbers with a move back to the senior circuit.
Dickey was perhaps unfairly judged by Blue Jays fans, having given up the likes of Syndergaard to get him, and then watching the rookie outperform the veteran in 2015 and 2016. Fans also grew frustrated with Josh Thole’s production, whose spot on the roster was keyed by his ability to catch the knuckleball. Unfortunately, GM’s are almost always rolling the dice with prospects, and Blue Jays will always covet Syndergaard. That said, Dickey wasn’t exactly a slouch in Toronto either.
No Cy Youngs or All-Star appearances, but he provided a valuable veteran presence and gave the Jays a ton of innings. For their part, the Braves seem to be excited to have him:
And let the Josh Thole jokes begin….