KC Royals general manger Dayton Moore is still looking for rotation help before spring training opens in mid-February. Should the Kansas City Royals consider trading for Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey?
Recent reports from MLB Trade Rumors suggest that the Blue Jays are open to dealing the 41-year-old Dickey, who has one year and $12 million remaining on his contract. Toronto general manager Ross Atkins, however, told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that he is not actively shopping Dickey.
MLB Trade Rumors writer Brad Johnson speculated that the Blue Jays have to be close to landing a deal with a free-agent starter like Wei-Yin Chen or Yovani Gallardo before seriously considering a Dickey deal.
If R.A. Dickey is indeed available, he could be an interesting addition to the KC Royals staff.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- KC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchers
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million man
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
Dickey won the NL Cy Young award in 2012 for his stellar 20-6, 2.78 ERA season for the Mets. He hasn’t been nearly as impressive the last three seasons for the Blue Jays, going 39-37, with a 3.95 ERA with an exactly league average ERA+ of 100. The most attractive thing about him is that he has logged more than 200 innings and made more than 33 starts each season.
Though Dickey will be 41-years-old next season, knuckleball pitchers typically pitch well deep into their careers. Further, Dickey could carry some hidden value for the KC Royals: many players believe knuckleball pitchers can throw off opposing batters for days afterward.
In 2013, Christopher Carruthers attempted to quantify this effect by comparing R.A. Dickey’s teammates performance when pitching both before, and immediately after, Dickey over four seasons (2010-2013). Carruthers indeed found that other pitchers consistently performed better when pitching after Dickey, and estimated the benefit to be worth an average of 1.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) per season.
Adding this yearly bump to Dickey’s last three seasons in Toronto would make him worth a total of 10.0 bWAR instead of 6.8 bWAR. That’s significant. Carruthers’ work suggests rather than being a slightly above-average pitcher, Dickey is more on par with James Shields (9.3 bWAR) over the same span.
If you buy into the “Dickey Effect”, that might make him the most valuable remaining pitcher available this winter.
There are two problems imagining such a deal coming to fruition: 1) Dayton Moore could be unwilling to further deplete his prospect pipeline, and 2) the KC Royals would have to deal with the Blue Jays, who might not want to help out someone they consider a rival for the 2016 pennant.
To make it worthwhile for the Kansas City Royals to pursue such a deal, two things would have to be true: 1) the Blue Jays and Royals will have to not care about dealing with a potential rival, and 2) the Blue Jays will have to be unaware, or not buy into, the “Dickey Effect” while the KC Royals analytics staff believes it to be true.
If the first hurdle can’t be overcome, the discussion never happens. If the second condition isn’t met, I don’t see any upside to the deal. While the thought intrigues me, I believe the KC Royals front office will favor a lottery ticket contract with someone like Cliff Lee, Mat Latos, or Tim Lincecum over making a trade for R.A. Dickey.