Revisiting the Mets-Blue Jays Trade Involving RA Dickey and Noah Syndergaard

New York Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard
New York Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard / Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The New York Mets are notorious for trading heralded prospects in exchange for veteran players in the twilight of their careers with the hopes of winning in the present. Look no further than last offseason's head-spinning deal that saw the club acquire a 36-year-old Robinson Cano and reliever Edwin Diaz from the Seattle Mariners for a potential superstar in Jarred Kelenic.

However, eight years ago, the Mets surprisingly made a move that addressed their future instead. In 2012, New York sent reigning NL Cy Young winner RA Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays. In return, the team notably landed young flamethrower Noah Syndergaard and highly-hyped catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud.

With the fate of the 2020 MLB season seemingly lying in the hands of commissioner Rob Manfred, let's dissect this blockbuster from both perspectives to see if we can determine a winner.

Mets-Blue Jays 2012 Trade Details

  • Mets Receive: Noah Syndergaard, Travis d'Arnaud, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra
  • Blue Jays Receive: RA Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas

We'll start with the Mets' perspective.

Syndergaard hasn't reached what many analysts and fans believe to be his full potential, and the Tommy John surgery he underwent a few months back will only delay that process. Still, there's no denying that he's an incredibly gifted pitcher that is a huge part of the limited success the Mets have enjoyed since his debut. In five seasons as a pro (716 innings), Thor is 47-30 with a 3.31 ERA, 777 strikeouts, and a 1.161 WHIP. Though the team hasn't achieved anything significant since a 2015 World Series berth with Syndergaard, he's established himself as the clear No. 2 arm in the rotation behind ace Jacob deGrom.

As for d'Arnaud, who was at one point more highly regarded than the former All-Star, well, he didn't really enjoy much success in Queens. In six seasons, the former No. 37 overall pick struggled with injuries and owned a woeful .242/.303/.401 slash line. He's now a member of the Atlanta Braves after a breakout 2019 campaign with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Already a veteran, Buck was kind of a throw-in piece to this trade. The former 11-year vet appeared in 101 games for New York before he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Becerra, meanwhile, is still just 25 years old, but hasn't come close to breaking out of the minors.

Now, we have the Blue Jays.

The only positive Toronto can take from acquiring Dickey is the fact that he led MLB in total starts in 2013 and 2014. Though durability is important, he was largely an ineffective pitcher. In three seasons, the knuckleballer compiled a 4.05 ERA. The Blue Jays did advance to the ALCS in 2015, but Dickey didn't exactly play a prominent role in that achievement.

Thole, on the other hand, never appeared in more than 57 games in his four seasons with the club, and Nickeas' big league career was over a year after the trade was finalized in 2013.

In many ways, this was an ideal trade for both the Mets and the Blue Jays in that it helped both clubs accomplish what they set out to achieve. However, Dickey's glaring regression paired with Syndergaard's early success and untapped potential forces us to deem New York as the clear winner of this blockbuster.