This season Jays Journal will be doing a series on What If’s of the last 10 years for the Blue Jays. To start, we will be covering a trade that lives on in the nightmares of Jays fans, the trade that sent pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard to the New York Mets for reigning NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.
To start with, I will explain the rules of these what if’s. We take one situation, like the R.A. Dickey trade, and examine how things would change if it didn’t happen. All injuries and stats stay the same, just so we have a rough baseline on which to base our findings off of. I will look at this situation from both sides, from the Jays perspective, and to a lesser extent, the Mets perspective.
What actually happened:
If this trade never happened…
Toronto Blue Jays:
Toronto kept top prospects pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, and catcher Travis d’Arnaud. With d’Arnaud in tow, Toronto let J.P. Arencibia, their 2013 starter walk, knowing they had an MLB ready catcher in d’Arnaud. Instead of getting starting catcher Dioner Navarro, the Jays sign backup catcher A.J. Pierzynski (Who actually signed with the Red Sox on a one-year contract for $8.25 million), to give veteran guidance to the young d’Arnaud.
It was a good signing because d’Arnaud would get hurt multiple times, first with a concussion, and then with a bone chip in his elbow. With d’Arnaud and Pierzynski, Toronto wouldn’t have needed the efforts of Russel Martin, leaving him to sign with the Cubs, giving them a solid catcher for their team. With Toronto not needing to give up a roster spot to keep Thole, Pierzynski signed on thru 2018, wanting to be part of a young, winning team.
Even though d’Arnaud’s defence is great, as he only committed 13 errors in three and a half seasons, Toronto ends up wishing they could’ve signed Martin, as d’Arnaud ends up disappointing them, by getting injured often, and only hitting .244 with 34 home runs and 118 RBIs through 2017.
In 2015 Syndergaard was brought up to a Jays pitching staff that also included Marco Estrada, Mark Buehrle, and Drew Hutchison. In an effort to fuel their post-season run, the Jays trade for David Price from the Tigers, giving the team a top five of Price, Estrada, Syndergaard, Buehrle, and Hutchison.
For the 2015 playoffs, Marcus Stroman comes back, and the Jays roll with a starting four of Price, Estrada, Buehrle and Stroman, electing to put the fireballer, Syndergaard, in the bullpen. The Jays fall behind 2-0 in the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, but end up winning behind inspired games by Estrada in game three to keep them alive and game five, by Stroman to win it. Syndergaard comes in the sixth inning of each game to shut down the Rangers.
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In the ALCS against the Kansas city Royals, with no Dickey to blow game four and have the Jays lose 14-2, Toronto wins 2-1 and ties the series at two games apiece. In game five, the Jays win, behind another fantastic performance by Estrada. In game six, with a chance to close out the series, Toronto brings Syndergaard out of the bullpen in the sixth, and he shuts out the Royals until the ninth when they hand the game over to closer
In game six, with a chance to close out the series, Toronto brings Syndergaard out of the bullpen in the sixth, and he shuts out the Royals until the ninth when they hand the game over to closer Roberto Osuna. He surrenders a run but finishes the game to send the Jays to the World Series.
In the World Series, the Jays face the New York Mets (Interesting…). The Blue Jays have one of the best bullpens in recent World Series history, with Aaron Sanchez, Syndergaard and Osuna being lights out. The Jays are able to solve the Mets easily, winning in six games.
In 2016, the Jays don’t need to sign J.A. Happ. With a full season from Stroman, along with Syndergaard and Sanchez being promoted to the rotation, the Jays enter the season looking like favourites to repeat, but we all know how hard that is. The Jays struggled behind a weak bullpen that has nothing outside of Osuna. The consider moving Syndergaard back to the bullpen, t end up moving Sanchez there instead.
Syndergaard wins the 2016 Cy Young, behind a league-leading ERA of 2.60, 218 strikeouts, and 14 wins.
The Jays make it back to the ALCS, but this time they lose, to Cleveland.
New York Mets:
The Mets decide to keep Dickey, hoping he can repeat his Cy Young season. They are horribly wrong, and Dickey proves to be a one-hit-wonder, going back to a 30 start, 4.00 ERA pitcher. Solid, but not spectacular. With no-one to block his way, Kevin Plawecki becomes the catcher of the future for New York.
Do you think it would have ended up differently? Do you have and idea for a What if? If so, let us know in the comments.