According to GM, Ross Atkins, the Toronto Blue Jays are not ruling out bringing back knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey, in 2017
At his presser on Monday, Toronto Blue Jays GM, Ross Atkins, made some interesting comments about how his team will move forward. He explained how there were some “no brainer” decisions; the kind that none of us would be surprised to see coming. But, he also made some comments that might strike you as surprising.
For example, when he was asked about adjusting the roster, he highlighted that the starting rotation was a point of pride. And, why not? The Blue Jays rotation was tops in the AL this season. You have to like what you got from this group. Of course, the group includes R.A. Dickey, who the GM mentioned on Monday: “We’re open to R.A. Dickey, even. We’re not turning our backs on anyone”. Wait, what?!
So, with a rotation that consists of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano, the Blue Jays are not turning down the possibility of bringing Dickey back? This certainly grabbed my attention when I heard it. On the surface, it looks like there really isn’t room for Dickey in this group.
Perhaps, your thought might be to add him as a reliever. To which, I reply that sentimentality is not enough to feel comfortable in bringing the home run prone knuckleball into a game in the later innings. So, the real option is him as a starter. Do we really think that Dickey would accept a minor league assignment to be stashed in Buffalo? Because, let’s be honest, the Blue Jays were lucky to not have to dip into AAA to find a starter this year. It’s almost unheard of. Having a starter in waiting is just good sense. But, is Dickey that guy? You have to think that his chances are pretty good of getting a major league deal with another team.
One could argue (rather easily) that he is coming off his worst season as a Blue Jay; one where he was well short of what some say is the only thing that makes him valuable, the 200 inning calling card. In total, he put forth a 10-15 effort with a 4.46 ERA (his highest since 2009, with the Twins). There is no questioning that his knuckleball is not as effective. According to Fangraphs, his knuckler was his least effective pitch. Check it out: wFB: -0.7/wCB: 0.5/wCH: 0.0/wKN: -9.5 His “stuff” is not what it used to be. So, he would almost certainly take a pay cut.
At this point, we should probably mention that should Dickey return, the question of who will catch him must be addressed. Does that mean Josh Thole also returns? Is there another catcher left who can catch the capricious animal? With Russell Martin getting older, the club will likely not consider him catching Dickey. So, a roster spot has to be left for someone. Is Thole that someone?
It just takes one team that needs a 5th starter to round out their rotation. But, the fact that the Blue Jays are not ruling him out might give us reason to think. Because of the reasons above, the notion that he would be starting depth is rather intriguing. We could go crazy and read into that idea that perhaps, the starting 5 we think are in place now may not be there when the 2017 season opens up. There is a belief that this winter could see the Blue Jays more active in the trade market, rather than free agency. Perhaps, one of the deals they make involves a member of the starting 5. That is not to create a “Hot Take” or hype where there isn’t any. There is no indication that the club is looking to move a starter.
But, the idea of bringing R.A. Dickey never crossed my mind as a realistic option until Ross Atkins wouldn’t rule it out on Monday. Now, he could very well be saying that to ensure no feelings are hurt. But, he didn’t say that about Brett Cecil or Michael Saunders. I don’t want to be accused of creating rumors, etc. But, the idea of retaining the knuckleball leaves a few questions. It will be interesting to see how they get answered.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.