Robert Allen Dickey has had himself a pretty weird career, which most recently culminated in a not-particularly-successful 2016 season for a pretty good Blue Jays team. However, his tenure with Toronto is drawing to a close, and the Braves may be pursuing the knuckleballer as he hits free agency, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman:
Dickey is expected to be among the pitchers the Braves will pursue https://t.co/4IJr1gz5GF— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 25, 2016
DIckey did not have a good 2016, with a 4.46 ERA belying a 5.03 FIP and 4.76 xFIP. Despite playing in the AL East, and calling the launching pad of Rogers Centre his home, that only gave him 1.0 fWAR (and 1.1 RA9-WAR, if that’s your jam) over 170 innings last season.
Dickey’s had a really strange career (and life) to date: he was drafted 18th overall in 1996 by the Rangers, but had his signing bonus reduced by a factor of 10 when a medical examination revealed that he lacks a UCL in his right elbow. Despite the amazing ability to pitch without said critical anatomical component, Dickey didn’t fare that well with the Rangers aside from a swingman stint in 2003.
He transitioned to being a primary knuckleballer (currently one of two in the majors) all the way back in 2006, but success was elusive, and he bounced across the Brewers, Mariners, and Twins organizations before something appeared to click (or waft) with the Mets in 2010. Dickey then rode two above-average seasons and a documentary made about him (Knuckleball, duh) to a Cy Young season in 2012 (although Clayton Kershaw really should have won).
After that, Dickey was traded to Toronto, where he proceeded to be an average, albeit weird, pitcher. At least until this past season, where all of his peripherals regressed a bit.
Given all that, and his advanced age, Dickey might come cheap for a suitor like the Braves. I’d guess he may get something in the range of $8-$10 million on a one-year deal, and he may also elect retirement rather than continuing to ply his trade.
The Braves have made it public that they’re looking for a couple of arms to slot into their rotation. Just imagine the weekly entertainment Braves fans could get from a rotation with R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon...