TORONTO (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Toronto ace R.A. Dickey said Tuesday he’s thrilled to join a team that’s “all in” to win the World Series and thankful the New York Mets did not meet his contract demands.
The Blue Jays formally introduced Dickey at Rogers Centre after acquiring the National League Cy Young Award winner from the Mets last month.
Dickey said the Mets helped him cultivate his knuckleball and said there is no acrimony between him and his former team, but he’s glad to be moving on.
He said Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos is doing everything to win now after also acquiring All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. Dickey said if Toronto doesn’t win it won’t be because Anthopoulos didn’t try.
“You can see that he’s all in, the moves that he made,” Dickey said. “If we don’t win, it won’t be because of him.”
After going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and leading the NL with 230 strikeouts, Dickey was scheduled to earn $5.25 million next year with the Mets. At first they offered a deal adding $14 million over two years. New York later increased its offer to an additional $20 million over two years, still short of what Dickey wanted.
“I even told him this when I met him, I didn’t think he got the respect he deserved for who he was and the ability that he has,” Anthopoulos said.
“The more work that we did on him, the more work we did on the pitch — of course you’re going to look at guys who have thrown it before, Wakefield, Hough … I started thinking he’s going to get better. … The more work we did on him, the more comfortable we became with the price.”
Anthopoulos said too many have overlooked Dickey’s last three solid seasons. He even thinks Dickey can improve on his Cy Young season as he continues to work on mastering the knuckleball.
“What you see is what you get,” said Dickey.
Dickey languished in the minors for 14 seasons and switched from conventional pitcher to full-time knuckleballer in a last-ditch effort to save his career. It took him years to finally master the floating, darting pitch, which he often throws harder (around 80 mph) and with more precision than almost anyone who used it before him.”
“The first time I really felt I could be consistent with it was late 2009,” Dickey said. “I still have more to learn. I’m still hungry and passionate about my craft.”
Anthopoulos called it an “expensive” trade because they gave up a lot of young talent, including top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and minor league right-hander Noah Syndergaard, but said you don’t often get a chance to acquire a Cy Young award winner.
“Guys like this don’t come around very often and they don’t get traded very often,” Anthopoulos said.
Anthopoulos, having a busy offseason, agreed to a $30 million, three-year contract with the 38-year-old knuckleballer after being given a 72 hour window to work out a contract as part of the trade. Dickey said even before he agreed to the terms he knew he would sign with Toronto because of all they had done.
“I immediately knew that we should be very competitive,” Dickey said. “I’m hoping to play 10 more years, but this could also be my last contract. And when you see that, you want to win.”
Dickey said he’s looking forward to calling himself a Canadian for six months a year and reinvigorating a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since winning back-to-back World Series in 1992 and ’93.
“I think this can be a special few years for this city, this country and the players,” he said. “I remember the glory days with Joe Carter hitting the home run against Mitch Williams.”
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