Recap: Sandy Alderson’s conference call about today’s trade

sandy-alderson1Sandy Alderson talked with reporters after the trade was completed, and basically said:

Trading R.A. Dickey had nothing to do with finances. It was purely a ‘baseball decision.’

The offers he made to Dickey to extend his contract were ‘genuine,’ and had Dickey accepted any of them he would still be on the Mets.

In the meantime, the price for pitching escalated, and the demand for Dickey increased, and eventually the trade offer from the Blue Jays outweighed what Alderson expected to get from Dickey over the next two or three seasons.

“We do expect Travis D’Arnaud is very close to the major leagues. And if he doesn’t make it out of spring training, we would expect to see him at some point very soon thereafter, probably in 2013.”

“We do expect to acquire some other players. We recognize we have holes to fill … but we will address those. We certainly are not punting on 2013.”

The team’s popularity and ticket sales will be based on wins and losses, not individuals.

To read a full transcript, 

Sandy’s opening

“Just a couple of quick, preliminary thoughts: First of all, I want to apologize for all of the members of the media for not being available for communication over the last several days. But, as you can imagine, this was a delicate process, and continued to be right up until the deal was approved by Major League Baseball. As a consequence, the less communication, the better.

Secondly, I want to express my thanks and the thanks of the entire organization to R.A. Dickey. It was an extraordinary privilege for us to be a part of his career over the last three years – in my case, the last two. And, the final chapter has not been written. But it has been an extraordinary career arcing from disappointment to jubilation with the Cy Young Award. We all appreciate what he’s done for us. We will all be following him closely as a Blue Jay and rooting him to further success. R.A. has been great throughout this process. We had a chance to talk about an hour ago. As I said, it’s been a real honor to be associated with him.

As far as the players we’ve acquired, we are very happy to have the four players we did acquire. This was a complicated deal, but we’re certainly happy with the value. Lastly, I want to say thank you to Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, both of whom will be departing the Mets organization. They have been great teammates and parts of the organization for a long period of time.

If R.A. accepted the team’s proposal, and they had this package available to them, is it fair to say the package would have been more attractive?

“I think that’s very difficult to say. One of the reasons the negotiations were prolonged is that we began to see forces of supply and demand at work, frankly. On the one hand, we saw the value of starting pitching go up in terms of compensation. At the same time, we saw the supply start to go down in terms of availability. Because we were proceeding on two tracks, at some point, we had to wait and see what the value might be.

But if you go back to the very beginning, we stated it was our desire to re-sign R.A.. It was. That was our preference. I think if we had gotten to the point where he would have agreed to our number, he would have signed, and in the absence of the discussion about a possible trade, I don’t think we would have felt comfortable about a trade after he agreed. He understood where the market was, we understood where the market was going. At that point, we understood and he understood we had to find out what his value might be in the market.”

Did he delay making his best offer, or did he not make his best offer because he wanted to see what was available?

“I’d prefer not to comment on the way the actual negotiations actually proceeded specifically. We got to the point before the Winter Meetings where we thought there would be significant interest in R.A.. We felt that it was important to at least pursue that to see where it might take us. But otherwise, I really can’t comment on the discussions we had with R.A. and his agent.”

What does he see in 2013, and the work he has to do for that team?

“Number one, we have made this trade and we feel that a number of the players we’ve acquired – John Buck, certainly, and probably Travis d’Arnaud – will make contributions in 2013. We can’t quantify those at the moment, but we do have expectations about that.

In addition, there’s a lot of time between now and when we report to Spring Training. So we do expect to do some other things. We do expect to acquire some other players. We recognize we have some holes to fill, we may have created a hole in our rotation that we need to address. But we will address those – we certainly are not punting on 2013.”

Was this trade a financial wash, and there is still money to spend?

“Yeah. If you look at R.A.’s salary going to Toronto, we took Buck back. They acquired Josh Thole. There’s a little bit of a wash. perhaps there’s some money we’ve added that would be disposable on our part. We have much of the same flexibility now that we had before the trade. We’ve filled a catching spot – or at least substituted it somewhat in. And we’ve created another spot. But we still have some payroll flexibility, yes.”

The genesis of the talks with Toronto, when did it get serious, when were the players agreed upon.

“Toronto expressed an interest very early on – well before the WInter Meetings. Perhaps a week or so before the Winter Meetings, and expressed an interest in perhaps doing something before the Winter Meetings took place. That did not eventuate. But, there were several discussions before the Winter Meetings, there were continuing discussions at the Winter Meetings as there were with other teams who had an interest in R.A.. Then they picked up again after the Winter Meetings. I would say the players, probably Tuesday or Wednesday, that the final structure of the deal was put in place. There were some medical issues that had to be addressed, and obviously the window had to be put in place. I would say the players were probably finalized in the middle of last week.”

At what point did he decide R.A. would definitely be traded? Was it at that point Toronto was the destination, or were their other teams in play?

“As is often the case, teams will drop in and drop out of these conversations. And so there were several teams that had expressed interest at the Winter Meetings. There were a couple that continued to express interest after the Winter Meetings. There was at least one club that expressed new interest after the Winter Meetings. Those conversations went back and forth, and teams popped up and disappeared. Toronto, though, was steady in their interest. I would say the decision to trade R.A. was not made until we understood what the final deal would be with Toronto. Before that time, we made it clear we had other options. Not to Toronto but to other clubs. One of those options was for R.A. to return to New York. So, we didn’t commit to make the trade until we were absolutely satisfied the return would warrant a trade.”

Is it likely D’Arnaud will start in AAA because of his injury/MLB mechanics of Super Two and delaying FA?

“I talked to Travis a little bit earlier today. I told him he would come to camp and would see what happened. We have a very capable catcher in John Buck. John and Travis actually know each other, I believe, from Travis’ first Major League camp with Toronto. So, we will just have to wait and see. But you point out the injury factor. Certainly having not played through the second half of last season, without having played Winter Ball, everything will be predicated on how he performs in Spring Training. We will just have to see how that goes. At the same time, we do expect Travis is very close to the Major Leagues. If he doesn’t make it out of Spring Training, we expect to see him very soon after, probably in 2013.”

Did d’Arnaud have surgery on his PCL?

“The typical procedure with a PCL tear is to not do surgery. The standard response is to leave it alone and do rehab, which is what he did. There was no surgical repair. Surgery is not indicated for a PCL tear. … We reviewed his medical records, we also had conversations with his rehab therapist, and he was ultimately examined by our physicians.”

On a difference maker: Is Travis that guy, and why did you want Syndergaard?

“We view d’Arnoud – and I believe the industry views Travis – as the top catching prospect in the game. Not just the top catching prospect, but the one closest to Major League ready, if not Major League ready. In addition, we think his upside is such we think he can be a significant player for us over the next many years. So understand he is only a prospect, understand he has not done anything at the Major League level. But, given his ceiling, given his position, and given what we think he can do not just in the long-term for the Mets but near-term, medium-term, we think he can be a difference maker. And, certainly I did say that on more than one occasion that that’s what we had to get back in the trade. I think he constitutes that possibility.

Noah is a very high-ceiling power pitcher. He’s further away, obviously just having pitched in Low-A last year. But, we believe he’s got tremendous upside potential. And, in terms of his arrival, while we don’t expect he will arrive at the Major League level at the same time or soon after Travis, we think that when he does arrive, he can have a very high ceiling. So, again a prospect, and not somebody who has pitched in the big leagues. But among prospects very highly valued and a tremendous asset going forward.”

You said you wanted to re-sign A and that was preference. His new deal with TOR was in-line and a bargain. Why did you not sign him, and does this say anything about the finances of the team?

“This means nothing about the Mets’ finances, Tyler. This was a baseball decision. At some point, the lines crossed. We did prefer to sign him at the outset. We felt we could sign him. I still felt confident we could sign him as we got into the WInter Meetings. But it also became clear, against the backdrop of a very hot market for pitching, that his value and a possible trade was also skyrocketing. And so, at some point, as I said, those lines crossed. His value in trade to us exceeded our ability to keep him here over a one, or possibly two or three year period. So, this didn’t have anything to do with finances, or anything else related to R.A. or R.A.’s conduct or anything of that sort. He, as far as I’m concerned, conducted himself exceptionally well throughout this process. There’s always going to be hiccups that occur on one side or another. And yet, that had nothing do with our ultimate decision. It was about our future, and our ability to acquire some players in areas where we had a real need.

If you look at our system, we are exceptionally deep in pitching. We were strong at the Major League level in starting pitching. I think it was understood – certainly by us -that if we were going to improve in other areas of the club – whether it was behind the plate or in the outfield – we would probably have to acquire that through trade. Were we not able to get the quality in return, the lines wouldn’t have crossed, and I expect R.A. would’ve remained a Met.”

Was there ever an offer he could’ve said yes to which would have kept him a Met?

“There were several made that he could have accepted, yes.”

The challenges of replacing R.A. in terms of W/L, and someone who was the most popular player last year?

“As I said earlier, we have to decide on that fifth starter, number one starter, number two starter – whatever R.A. represented. Based on his performance, he probably represented a number one. We are not going to replace him with a number one starter in return. But we are going to have to find someone who can give us some of those wins. We also have to hope the team improves in other areas to offset R.A.’s loss. That’s what we are going to make every effort to do.

R.A. was a very popular player. I’m sure he would have been very popular next year here. I’m sure he’ll be very popular in Toronto. And, for good reason. On the other hand, our popularity as a team, our popularity among fans, and our attendance will be a function of winning and losing, and winning and losing consistently over time. And so those are the kinds of things we have to take into account. We want the team to be popular because it’s successful. I’m hopeful that in the coming years our overall popularity will be more of a function of our success than individuals.

But look, I recognize this is an entertainment business. It was great to have R.A. here. And yet, we felt that in the best interest of the organization, and the long-term popularity of the team that this was the right thing to do.”

On a new starter: Young, Capuano – someone who could go to the pen, or someone who is locked into the rotation. On catching, what are you looking for?

“First, with regard to the starting pitching, I would expect we will acquire someone who is not necessarily a swing man, but somebody to whom we will have to commit a starting role. It’s possible we will end up with someone who can swing, but if we are to get anyone with any basic quality, we will probably have to commit. And actually that’s one of our attractions. We now have a starting pitching opening and we can attract the type of pitcher we hope can get us ten or 12 wins. The other thing, of course, is we will have to have some depth. Just having Jenrry Mejia or someone else fill in doesn’t mean we will have the sufficient depth to get us through the season. That’s something we experienced last year when we lost so much starting pitching in the middle of July. We don’t expect to duplicate R.A. Dickey – that’s not going to happen. But, at the same time, we will be looking for somebody who is looking for a good opportunity, but somebody with some upside.

As far as the catching is concerned, we have Buck, we have d’Arnaud, we have Recker. My guess is we are going to go out and find some additional catching because, if nothing else, we are going to need some depth at Triple-A.”

Outfielders, and bullpen?

“I expect we will be – we have been addressing the outfield situation. We’ve been talking to other clubs and talking to free agents. The same is true with the bullpen. Our discussion with catchers have been on hold for the last four or five deals, pending this deal. Of course, we couldn’t really talk to a starting pitcher about a possible role for us until this was resolved as well. But look, as I said, there’s a long time between now and the beginning of February, and there are still some good players on the board.”

To listen to Sandy’s discussion with reporters, click the ‘play’ button below: