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Impressed by pitch, Dickey eager to move forward

Impressed by pitch, Dickey eager to move forward

Impressed by pitch, Dickey eager to move forward
TORONTO -- R.A. Dickey knew the Blue Jays meant business the minute they showed up in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., with the intention of working out a long-term contract extension on Saturday afternoon.

The 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner had just been informed by the Mets he was on the verge of being traded to Toronto. Minutes later, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos placed a call to his potential new recruit.

Not only was Anthopoulos looking to talk, but he also wanted an in-person meeting later that day. Turns out Anthopoulos already made the trip to the Music City and was patiently waiting for an opportunity to sell Dickey on his organization.

"It meant a lot to me that Alex had the foresight to be down here when they kind of saw that the package was going to come together," Dickey told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday afternoon.

"It allowed me to look him in the eye -- I enjoy doing that -- and hearing from his heart where he thought I fit in the scheme of things with the organization, where he envisioned us going in the near future, and how important he felt like I was to that vision."

Toronto's pending trade for Dickey was contingent on getting him to sign a long-term extension with his new ballclub. But that wasn't the intention of the first meeting.

All of the talk about finances would wait until later. Anthopoulos was set to sit down with Dickey's agent later that night, but before that, the club wanted to ensure the knuckleballer was comfortable with his new surroundings.

Anthopoulos was joined by new manager John Gibbons and director of professional scouting Perry Minasian. The purpose of Minasian's presence in the room was to increase the familiarity in the group, because the two individuals previously had crossed paths in the Rangers' organization during the mid-2000s.

Toronto's trio outlined all of the moves that had been made this offseason to completely overhaul a disappointing squad. Despite the noticeable upgrades, there was still one missing piece to the puzzle, and it could be filled by adding a pitcher of Dickey's pedigree.

If Dickey had any doubts about uprooting his family for a move north of the order, they quickly dissipated. It didn't take long for a sense of excitement about the upcoming season to completely overwhelm him following several whirlwind weeks of seemingly non-stop speculation.

"I took a moment just to be sad about that, because I had a great time in New York," Dickey said of his reaction. "I poured my heart and soul into that team, into the community as best I could, and was leaving that. So I thought it was important to be sad about that for a minute.

"That enabled me to really embrace where I was going wholeheartedly, and then become a Toronto Blue Jay. I'm going to do the same things for the Toronto Blue Jays that I did for the New York Mets, pouring my heart and soul into the team, because it's the only way I know to do it."

Dickey agreed to sign a two-year extension worth approximately $25 million with the Blue Jays. He's scheduled to make a total of $29 million over the next three seasons, with a club option in 2016 valued at $12 million.

It's the same below-market-value deal he offered to sign with the Mets, but he was rebuked at every turn. New York decided instead to jump-start its rebuilding process by acquiring a series of young prospects to provide upgrades in the Minor Leagues.

The Mets are putting together a roster with the goal of competing in a few years. Toronto, on the other hand, is doing everything it can to win now. The investment in Dickey follows of a slew of other roster moves, including the acquisitions of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.

At the age of 38, Dickey feels as though he still has plenty lefty to give, but he also viewed the window of opportunity to win as something which couldn't be passed up.

"It got me excited about being part of a winning culture in Toronto," Dickey said. "I'm excited, I began to get excited immediately after we left the dinner. I told my agent that I felt very comfortable around [Anthopoulos] and John Gibbons.

"They know that I'm all in and that I'm going to pitch my guts out for the Toronto Blue Jays. [Anthopoulos] knows what he's getting and I know what I'm getting I feel like, and that's a good start to a good marriage."

Dickey generated a lot of attention during the 2012 season en route to his first career Cy Young Award. He went 20-6 while posting a 2.73 ERA and striking out 230 in 233 2/3 innings of work.

It marked the third consecutive year that Dickey was able to improve his numbers across the board. Each season, Dickey's strikeout rate increased while his walk rate declined, and while he might only have 39 wins to show for it over the past three seasons, that has more to do with an underwhelming Mets team.

Dickey likely doesn't receive the credit he deserves, because knuckleballers tend to be viewed with a level of skepticism. In a lot of ways it,'s unfair, but that is something that Dickey has become used to over time.

"Although this may be a pitch of last resort -- which I think is accurate -- think about, over history, how many last resorts ended up being successes?" Dickey said. "A lot. It doesn't mean just because it's a last resort that it can't be a legitimate successful weapon in the Major Leagues, and that's what I'm trying to prove and it's taken a long time.

"My No. 1 goal is: how can I be a consistent, trustworthy process on the field? Every time John Gibbons gives me the ball, how can I go six, seven or eight innings and give up three runs or less? That's all I worry about as a knuckleball pitcher."

If Dickey's able to pull that off in Toronto, the concerns about a starting rotation will have been all but erased.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["hot_stove" ] }