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Acquiring R.A. Dickey would solidify Blue Jays’ already improved position in AL East

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(AP)

With each passing day that the New York Mets have failed to meet R.A. Dickey's seemingly reasonable demands for a contract extension, it has became increasingly more likely the reigning National League Cy Young award winner will be shipped out of town.

That speculation, which began very early in the offseason, only gained more steam at a charity event earlier in the week when Dickey expressed his disappointment in the negotiating process and his desire to leave after 2013 without an extension. The Mets, in turn, expressed disappointment in Dickey's disappointment and perhaps even the timing of his comments.

Needless to say, the whole ordeal was starting to get messy, but it appears we're on the verge of a resolution as Yahoo! Sports own Jeff Passan reported early Saturday morning that the Mets and Toronto Blue Jays were nearing a deal that would send Dickey north of the border, with catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud being the centerpiece of a package coming back to New York.

If d'Arnaud's name sounds familiar to casual fans reading, he was involved in the trade that brought Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2009. The 23-year-old is now on the fast track to big leagues after hitting .333/.380/.595 with 16 homers and 52 RBI in less than half a season at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2012, and is widely regarded as the top catching prospect in the game. Not that the Phillies regret making their deal, but I'm sure they can't be too excited by the possibility of watching him blossom in their own division.

The Mets will receive at least one more prospect when all is said and done, and it's possible another piece goes to Toronto, expanding this deal to five or six players. We'll have the particulars once they're available and confirmed.

When and if this rumored trade is finalized, it will be the third significant deal pulled off by Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos in two months time. That includes trading manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox for infielder Mike Aviles. On Nov. 13, he got the real offseason kicked off by acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson, among others, in an unexpected 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins.

That big haul instantly moved Toronto into a position to contend a division championship in 2013. The impending addition of Dickey would very much solidify that position in a more wide open AL East.

That's exactly what the AL East is right now, too. The New York Yankees are getting older and facing injuries. The Boston Red Sox are seemingly grasping for solutions and quick fixes. That's not to mention the second Wild Card spot which gives them a new found margin for error. The window for contending and earning a playoff spot out of the AL East is wide open right now and could remain that way possibly two or three years down the road.

For a team that hasn't seen that light at the end of the tunnel for a long time, it's nice to see them building a core and going for it. But will it ultimately work?

It should, I think, but I honestly don't know how to begin analyzing a knuckleball specialist. I couldn't tell you how likely it is he'll continue throwing it as well as he has over the past three seasons or if he can continue performing at a near Cy Young level. I just know that Dickey has worked hard to perfect his craft and there's no real reason to believe he'll somehow lose that touch or hit a wall. Of all the pitchers available this off season, he may just be the safest bet to stay healthy, continue producing, and may also be the best bargain.

But it doesn't just hinge on Dickey working like an ace. They'll need a healthy Josh Johnson for at least 25 well timed starts and a healthy Jose Reyes for 150 games to get over the top. On paper, without question, they would be the most improved team this side of southern California, but they'll go ahead and play those 162 games anyway just to make sure.

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