Dave Cameron released his annual top ten transactions from the MLB offseason and the Blue Jays made the list three times (well four actually).
It is an interesting read, here are some of the highlights:
10. The Blue Jays acquire R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole, and Mike Nickeas from New York.
The Blue Jays last big move gets the last spot on this list, mainly because the cost to acquire Dickey was pretty substantial. Having to surrender two highly regarded prospects to get Dickey from the Mets makes this less of a steal and more of an aggressive upgrade, but it’s an aggressive upgrade that has a real chance to pay off. Dickey makes the Blue Jays a top notch AL East contender, and because they were able to sign him to a below market extension, it’s not simply a one year rental. Much is going to be made of his age and the fact that he only has had one elite season, but the idea of Dickey as a one year wonder is a total myth, and even the 2010-2011 version of Dickey would be a nice acquisition for the Blue Jays. Toss in the chance that he might have another ace like season left in his belt, and the acquisition of Dickey may have been the biggest upgrade any team made all winter.
5. The Mets acquire Travis D’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, andWulimer Becerra from Toronto.
As I said above, I like this deal for Toronto, and I think there was a case to be made for the Mets keeping Dickey signing him to an extension themselves. But, in D’Arnaud and Syndergaard, they were able to get a couple of pieces in return that could have much more long term value to the Mets, and D’Arnaud is close enough to the Majors that they could start seeing a return on the move this season. Because Dickey was willing to take a discount on an extension, the Mets were able to pry a premium return from Toronto, and having these two guys around is probably better for their future than having Dickey under contract through his age 40 season. This wasn’t the Mets only option, but when you see what they were able to command in exchange for the reigning Cy Young winner, it makes the decision to trade him more understandable.
3. The Blue Jays acquire Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck from Miami.
While most of the attention surrounding this trade was scorn aimed at the Marlins for blowing up their team again, kudos to Alex Anthopolous and his crew for having the stones to make such a big trade. The four players Toronto acquired in this deal could easily add +10 WAR to the Blue Jays just by themselves, and this is the kind of monstrous step forward that the Jays needed to make in order to put themselves in position to make a big run this year. They took on a decent amount of money and gave up some real prospects to make the trade happen, but this was a game-changing trade for a franchise that needed to stop treading water. The Jays saw an opportunity to take the AL East and reenergize their fan base, and they took advantage of the best chance they had to make 2013 a winning season. Good for them.
2. The Blue Jays sign Melky Cabrera for 2/$16M.
It’s easy to draw a firm connection between Cabrera’s monster 2012 season and the fact that he failed a drug test, admitting that he used PEDs during the season. It’s easy to assume that a drug free Cabrera won’t be anything close to the player he was in San Francisco. But at $8 million a year, the Blue Jays aren’t paying Cabrera to be anything close to the player he was last year. They’re paying him to be a roughly average outfielder, and anything he does above that is gravy. This is a guy who was a +4 win player without failing a drug test in 2011. A guy who got to the Major Leagues as a 20-year-old, and was an average player for the Yankees at age 21. A guy headed into his age-28 season. You have to believe that PEDs are the sole reason that Cabrera has been an effective hitter the last two seasons to think that he can’t be an average player for the Blue Jays the next two seasons, and if he any of his improvement wasn’t PED related, then the Jays are going to get a massive bargain.
For those too lazy to click the link Dave Cameron felt the best offseason move was a bit of a surprise to me but definitely a quality move.
1. The Nationals acquire Denard Span from Minnesota.
Denard Span is a +3 win player, maybe even a bit better than that if you put more weight on his offensive resurgence after recovering from concussion-related issues. He’s under team control for his age 29-31 seasons for a grand total of $21 million. And, yet, the Nationals were still able to acquire him for the cost of one A-Ball pitching prospect who may or may not be able to stick in the rotation long term. When you look at what other +3 win outfielders were signing for this winter, or what other above average players with multiple years of team control were commanding in trades, Span looks like an outright theft by the Nationals.