Note: All discussion in this article assumes signing Dickey to a 2-year extension.
Well, if we're going to do this, we might as well go all the way. We've come too far to turn back now. And despite the fact that I am sure Dayton Moore feels like he has finally acquired that "front of the rotation" starter he wanted, he hasn't. Not by any credible measure outside of Gutchecks Per GRIT (GPGRIT) or Fairy Wishes Above Reality (well, fWAR, I guess). Which means that the Royals still need to find another pitcher if they really want to compete in 2013. It's weird what happens when you try and jump the market on mediocre starting pitching. It's just too bad that free agents won't sign here, ever since we murdered Robinson Cano's mother, fileted the skin from her bones, wore her like a suit and carried her head on a pike through the Plaza singing a tejano rendition of Al Jolston's "Mammy".
So, R.A. Dickey.
He's a hard pitcher to quantify, because of all of the things you've read about. So, I won't bother to rehash them. What is important are the numbers, and while for the two previous seasons they had been "Pretty good, I guess. I mean, he throws a knuckleball, so...", in 2012 they were "Really good, you know? I mean, despite the fact that he throws a knuckleball".
The most interesting thing about Dickey's numbers over the last three seasons, for me anyway, aren't his sudden increase in K's last year, but his consistently low walk totals, given the nature of the "Pitch". One that has seemed in the past, by even the best to have thrown it, to come with a great deal of volatility in control and, thus, walk totals.
Not for Dickey. At least, not for the past three seasons. He's been tinkering with the Pitch for the past seven years now, but didn't really figure out how to throw it until that warm, autumn day in the glade when the ghost of Phil Niekro yadda yadda. Look, he's been a good pitcher for three straight seasons. His age doesn't matter, because of common sense reasons that you know about. You're a smart bunch (a smart, handsome-if-not-particularly-well-groomed bunch).
So what do the Royals have to offer the Metropolitans? Particularly now that the best prospect left in the system is Kyle Zimmer. Well, not much in the way of immediate help, to be honest (assuming what the Royals are trying to do in 2013 is compete. Right? That's what you're trying to do?).
Full Disclosure: For those of you with weak constitutions or excitable dispositions, every single one of those words is a link to a different photo of Jeff Francoeur, including one where his head has been Photoshopped onto Walker, Texas Ranger.
Offensively, the Royals have their own problems, punctuated by, if I remember this correctly, the entire right side of the field. And since the whole point is to acquire better starting pitching, it leaves us with two choices: bullpen arms and prospects. Given what some have speculated to be Dickey's trade value, his price might be much lower than you'd think. Then again, this is Dayton Moore, and as we've seen over the past twelve hours, he's very good at paying more for things.
Outside of David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, the Metropolitans have what you could define as "needs" or, more astutely, "vacancies". And if they are wanting a major league ready player in return for Dickey, the only one I can see the Royals sending would be Lorenzo Cain. So, let's start there.
Cain still has five years of team control, plays an above-average center field and has shown flashes of hitting. He will also turn 27 near the beginning of the season and struggled to come back from injury last year. He's not going to be the key for any team, and certainly not the centerpiece of a trade, but he's a pretty good complement. However, the Royals need Cain, particularly now that they, well, you know. So, that's probably off the table, from a value-to-need standpoint but, it could be considered. So what's next?
The bullpen. They've got some expendables, given how well they performed last year, and the amount of depth there is in the system, you could easily move one of them without much effect. So, take your pick between Tim Collins, Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, and Kelvin Herrera. The Royals seem to be sold on Holland and Herrera (for good reason, seeing as how they are the two best arms in the bullpen). Crow is a "failed" starter who has improved his control over the last two seasons, managing nearly a 3:1 K/BB ratio last season over 63 innings. Tim Collins set a club record for strikeouts by a left-handed reliever with 93 K's over 69.2 IP. So, it's a toss-up, but let's say the Mets want Crow, considering his better control and history as a starter.
And now it comes down to prospects. Here, you are talking about either Yordano Ventura or Kyle Smith and someone like Calixte, Bonifacio or Cuthbert. Between Ventura and Smith, it is an argument between ceiling and floor. Ventura is further along with a higher ceiling; Smith is a year behind with a higher floor (mainly due to concerns about Ventura's frame and durability). Of the three position players, Bonifacio fills the biggest need, but since all of them are at least two seasons away from hinting at the majors, it is hard to tell what the Mets' needs will be then. Bonifacio is considered the best prospect of the three, given his age and performance, so there:
The Royals should trade RHP Aaron Crow, RHP Yordano Ventura, and OF Jorge Bonifacio to the Mets for R.A. Dickey.
Now that the Royals have committed to winning in 2013 (despite how realistic those commitments may be), they may as well pull the trigger for R.A. Dickey. The tone out of Metland is that the team and Dickey are unlikely to come to terms on an extension, and the Mets have no realistic expectation of competing for their division in 2013 (his last year under contract). If the Royals consider their window to be 2013-2015 as opposed to 2014-17, then making a move on Dickey makes sense. It won't happen. But it should.