Barring a very surprising turn of events, the Toronto Blue Jays will have made their second blockbuster trade of the 2012 offseason.
After acquiring Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio in a massive 12-player deal in November, it appears as though GM Alex Anthopoulos has completed yet another multiplayer trade, this one centred around reigning NL Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey.
According to a report from Fox Sports, the trade would involve the Mets giving up Dickey, backup catcher Josh Thole and a "non elite prospect," while the Jays would send back catcher John Buck, Travis D'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.
Both D'Arnaud and Syndergaard are highly ranked prospects according to Baseball America, and the fact that the Jays were willing to part with these two makes this deal a massive moment in the franchise's history.
If you weren't already convinced that Anthopoulos and the Jays were "all-in" for the next few seasons, it would be tough to avoid that conclusion now.
Surprisingly, the Marlins trade allowed the Jays to essentially keep their farm system in tact, and thus allowed Anthopoulos to turn their more attractive prospects into R.A. Dickey. If the Marlins had been more aggressive, the Jays likely wouldn't have had the assets to trade for Dickey.
According to the Fox Sports report, the Jays have approximately 72 hours to sign Dickey to a contract extension or the trade will be null.
But make no mistake, Jays fans, if Dickey signs an extension and the trade does indeed include D'Arnaud and Syndergaard, the next three years are monumental for this franchise.
Assuming Dickey signs a two-year extension, that gives the Jays control over him through 2015.
Disregarding options, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, other Jays who are signed through 2015 but no further include Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Ricky Romero and Mark Buehrle. That's not to mention several other key players whose current deals expire before 2015.
The window of opportunity is the next three seasons.
While the Dickey trade will likely divide the Jays fanbase. No doubt the majority will be excited by the addition of a Cy Young award winner, but many will also be upset with the package heading to New York. After all, Dickey is 38 years old.
However, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect Dickey to continue to pitch effectively for the next three seasons. It would be unreasonable to expect D'Arnaud and Syndergaard to be everyday productive major leaguers between 2013 and 2015.
D'Arnaud may be productive, but with the window closing on Bautista, Encarnacion and Buehrle, Anthopoulos clearly realized that the Jays' chance is next year, 2014 and 2015, and so took the risk. Syndergaard, on the other hand, will start 2013 in High-A ball and would likely arrive in the MLB somewhere around 2015 or 2016.
Either way, both D'Arnaud and Syndergaard will be going through major learning curves, all while the Jays' current stars—players like Bautista, Reyes, Romero, Morrow and Encarnacion—will be at their peaks. If Dickey can maintain his production, and if you believe in his athleticism and statistics over the last three seasons, then there's no reason to doubt him—giving up D'Arnaud and Syndergaard is a necessary sacrifice.
Anthopoulos recognized that his team's chance to win the World Series is in the very near future. He realized that his core wasn't going to be around when prospects like D'Arnaud and Syndergaard hit their peak.
So, Jays fans who are upset with this deal need to simply ask themselves whether or not they'd rather contend now or later.
Because on paper, they've got a World Series roster.