Blue Jays: Bargain or not, Dickey is not an option


The Blue Jays are in need of a fifth starter for their 2018 rotation, and a familiar face became a free agent on Monday in R.A. Dickey, whose option was not exercised by the Atlanta Braves. Despite the fact that he’ll be a bargain if he pitches in 2018, the Blue Jays shouldn’t even consider it.

We’re just a World Series away from the offseason opening for all 30 MLB teams, and the Blue Jays are among the many teams that have work to do in rebuilding their roster. Among the many needs, the Jays will need to add pitching depth, and specifically will need to find a 5th starter for their rotation, whether it comes from an in-house option, or from elsewhere this offseason.

One such option presented itself on Monday when the Atlanta Braves declined the option on R.A. Dickey‘s contract for 2018, passing on his salary of eight million in favour of paying a $500,000 buyout to cut him loose. The 43 year old may choose to retire, but after a season that saw him throw 190 innings and pitch to a 4.26 ERA, there’s certainly an argument to be made that he’s got something left in the tank.

It just shouldn’t be for the Blue Jays.

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Let me be clear about something first of all: I was always an R.A. Dickey fan, and felt that he was criticized far too much throughout his time in Toronto. The expectations for him were sky high when he arrived, coming off a season as the National League Cy Young winner, and being acquired for a few highly rated prospects, including Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud. He was supposed to be the piece that pushed the 2013 team over the top, but as we all remember, that season ended in disaster.

Dickey did remain with the team for three more seasons, and made more than 30 starts in each year as a Blue Jay. While he was often criticized for his inconsistent performance, he was a critical staple in the rotation, if for no other reason than the innings and veteran leadership he provided. However, with his role on the roster came another caveat, with the Blue Jays also having to carry Josh Thole as the back-up catcher in order to catch the knuckleballer.

While I absolutely believe that Dickey will provide value somewhere next season if he chooses to play, the Blue Jays are in a position where they can’t seriously consider bringing him in, regardless of how much of a bargain he may be. They tried to have Russell Martin catch him at times in 2015-16, but it didn’t work out all that well, and the coaching staff felt it was too hard on him to be tasked with that in addition to his regular duties. Now that Martin will be 35 next season, the point is hammered home even further.

In fact, the Blue Jays should be looking to find another viable backstop for next season, with the goal in mind of lessening the load on Martin and keeping him fresh and hopefully healthier. Bringing in Dickey would require them to find a catcher who can handle catching a knuckleballer, or else ask Martin to give it another go, and neither scenario makes any sense. The priority for a backup catcher needs to be an ability to start a few times a week and contribute on both sides of the ball, not just the skillset to handle Dickey’s arsenal.

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So while reunions are often fun, and this one makes some sense in terms of need, the Blue Jays need to pass on their former starter, and I’m nearly certain the front office would agree.

*Note- It looks like he’s leaning towards retirement at this stage, at least according to The Score.