Baltimore Orioles: Knuckler to the AL East?


If the reports of a potential R.A. Dickey trade to Toronto are true, the Baltimore Orioles’ path back to the postseason in 2012 will get just a bit more difficult. Reports began surfacing on Friday that the NY Mets were prepared to send the 2012 NL Cy Young award winner to Toronto, who originally were rumored to have offered catcher J.P. Arencibia and outfielder Anthony Gose back to New York (according to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports). However New York instead is interested in top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, and it appears that Toronto is willing to pull that trigger.

I would be very careful if I were the Toronto Blue Jays. Granted a prospect is just that – a prospect that might or might not pan out with good coaching – top prospects are tough to come by. Last winter many teams asked Dan Duquette about the availability of Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy during trade talks. At the time, I said that if I were Duquette I’d be a bit insulted that teams thought they could pry away prospects like that from the Orioles. Then again, from their standpoint I suppose what’s the harm in asking? Nevertheless, Duquette valued the Orioles’ top prospects because he knew what they would eventually be capable of doing down the road.

Courtesy of Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In this case, the Mets aren’t looking to contend with or without Dickey in 2013. So they’re in a power position at the negotiating table because they’re more than happy to keep the guy, but if they do trade him they’re going to want a large return. Again, a prospect needs good instruction and good nurturing in order to turn into the likes of a Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, or Manny Machado. I’m not familiar enough with the Mets’ farm system to know if d’Arnaud will get that, however New York certainly does risk that d’Arnaud is a dud and thus they’d be letting Dickey go for free. However keep in mind that Dickey will also be 39 years old in 2013. Knuckleballers can generally pitch well into their 40’s, however trading a top prospect for a 39-year old is a bigger risk to Toronto in my opinion.

Here’s the other thing; Dickey has one year left on his contract. One would think that Toronto would try to sign him to an extension, however needless to say there’s always the chance that he could walk. That aside, Toronto is a team within the Orioles’ own division that’s definitely all in on 2013. The lingering question is whether or not a team that’s literally being thrown together will have the chemistry that’s necessary to win immediately. Furthermore, by giving away prospects at the rate they are, Toronto had better be right about the team they’re creating. We all saw what happened to the Orioles’ farm system when they started undervaluing their prospects by trading them away for veterans that ended up paying no dividends. That’s why baseball executives have such a difficult job, because you have to balance winning today with the future of the franchise.

If this trade is consummated there will be people complaining that Dan Duquette isn’t making a splash like this. I would remind people that Duquette was on the verge of trading Adam Jones last winter for Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado. Lord knows how that would have worked out for the O’s. I suppose what I’m saying is that if 2012 taught us anything, it would be to trust the judgement of Dan Duquette on these matters. The Orioles probably have no need for a 39-year old knuckleballer with only one year of team control. If Toronto thinks that’s worth giving away a top prospect that could help down the road, so be it.