How to catch the Blue Jays

The rest of the AL East has some work to do to catch the projected favorites

Updated: December 18, 2012, 1:30 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | Baseball Think Factory

The busy offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays continued over the weekend, with the team acquiring NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets in a seven-player trade. Toronto's complete overhaul of the rotation looks to be done, but is it enough to fend off the rest of the division?

There's no question that the Jays gave up a lot of value to bring Dickey across the border. As Keith Law outlined Monday, Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard are legitimately excellent prospects and the odds are strong that one or both will succeed with the Mets.

That being said, pitchers of Dickey's value don't come cheaply and the acquisition makes perfect sense when examined against the backdrop of the other moves the Blue Jays made this season. Unlike a team like the Kansas City Royals, Toronto has a base of talent strong enough that a win-now trade is warranted. The ZiPS projection system estimated that the Jays' big trade with the Miami Marlins put the estimated talent level of the Toronto roster at around 90 wins, and this trade pushes that figure even higher.

Dickey's unlikely to be nearly 6 wins above replacement again in the American League in 2012 -- pitchers aren't immune to regression and he's moving to a league and park that will likely result in more homers allowed -- but he doesn't need to be a Cy Young winner in 2013 to push Toronto's playoff chances forward. The ZiPS projection system projects Dickey at a 3.88 ERA in 194⅔ innings in Toronto, good enough to be a 4-WAR season. Coupled with the Melky Cabrera signing, ZiPS now estimates the talent of Toronto's roster at 93 wins, making the Blue Jays the early favorites going into the season.

Now the question that remains is just how the rest of the division responds to this trade. Moves aren't made in a vacuum, after all, so the strength of the competition is something that has to be taken into consideration in any kind of offseason planning. So, what, if anything, could the rest of the division do to answer this trade?