For the first time in a long time, the starting rotation is one area which the Toronto Blue Jays won’t have to address this offseason.
With the rise of their young starters like Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison and to some extent, Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris, the Blue Jays suddenly have an embarrassment of riches in the starting pitching department.
That could make one of the veteran members of the rotation like R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle suddenly expendable if the Blue Jays chose to do so. Coincidentally, The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported the Blue Jays will soon make Mark Buehrle available.
Cafardo speculated Buehrle might be actually be the more attractive trade chip of the two starters in any potential trades engineered by Alex Anthopoulos this offseason.
While I’m not exactly in agreement with that sentiment, it got me wondering … who has more trade value right now: R.A. Dickey or Mark Buehrle?
First off, if the Blue Jays want to receive any sort of value or Mark Buehrle, they absolutely need to kick in some salary relief to get a deal done. Although he’s about as sure a thing as there is in baseball, the $19 million dollar price tag makes Buehrle almost unmovable.
However, if the Blue Jays were willing to pay somewhere in the neighbourhood of say $5 to $8 million of Mark Buehrle’s salary, he suddenly begins to look like a reasonable prospect for a team in need of reliable starting pitching.
Even if they have to throw in some cash to get the deal done, trading Mark Buehrle would still free up some much-needed salary relief for the Blue Jays. It could also net them a decent return; dealing away a veteran who’s all but guaranteed to throw 200 innings in 2015.
And if the Blue Jays could parlay Buehrle into an upgrade at second base or the outfield, then it not only gives them wiggle room on payroll, but it would also potentially shore up a spot in the lineup.
The prospect of trading away R.A. Dickey is a little more complicated. On the surface, his $12 million dollar salary for 2015 and subsequent $12 million dollar option for 2016 seems like a fairly good deal for any potential suitors out there.
Much like Buehrle, Dickey can basically be penciled in for 30 starts and 200 plus innings when healthy. However, R.A. Dickey essentially comes as part of a package deal with Josh Thole.
Not that Thole is the only knuckleball catcher in all of baseball, but it would behoove any potential suitors to get Thole as a throw-in when they trade for Dickey.
Having Josh Thole play once every five days and take up a coveted bench spot may not be a beneficial proposition for those teams, though. Unless those teams can find another knuckleball receiver, they’d be stuck with Josh Thole as well.
It’s odd to think that a 35 or 38-year old veteran pitcher may still have some upside, but if either of them do, it’s R.A. Dickey. Although he came to Toronto following a Cy Young Award season, he’s been a bit underrated during his tenure in Toronto.
Admittedly, the initial expectations for R.A. Dickey were high when he arrived during the whirlwind 2012 offseason, but for the most part, Dickey has stabilized and returned to his career norms.
Also, strictly from a financial standpoint, R.A. Dickey’s contract is much more palatable than Mark Buehrle’s. But factor in his $1 million dollar buyout for 2016 and Josh Thole’s contract, and another team could be on the hook for close to $15 million for Dickey’s services.
Considering how relatively unproven the Blue Jays’ young starting pitchers are, it’s somewhat of a scary thought to let a starter as stable as Mark Buehrle or R.A. Dickey go and expect another arm to pick up those 200 innings.
However, if Anthopoulos’ hands are tied related to payroll once again and the Blue Jays either need that cash to sign prospective free agents or need to trade assets to fill other positions, then dealing Dickey or Buehrle is the way to go.
Is one starter more tradable than the other? Straight up, I’d say R.A. Dickey is the better buy, but if the Blue Jays eat some of Mark Buehrle’s $19 million dollar salary, then they’re essentially both on par.
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