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Mets trade Cy Young winner Dickey to Blue Jays

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Mets trade Cy Young winner Dickey to Blue Jays

NEW YORK (AP) Eager for a new challenge and certainly a better chance to win, R.A. Dickey broke the news of his trade even before the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets.

A few minutes ahead of the teams announcing the seven-player swap Monday that sent the NL Cy Young Award winner to Toronto, he tweeted his thanks to Mets fans and added he was all set to pitch for the Blue Jays.

``Now that its official, I want to say that I don't have the words to express how grateful I am to you for the steadfast support,'' Dickey posted on Twitter. ``Thank you for making me feel wanted.''

``Looking forward to a new chapter with the Jays,'' he wrote.

Toronto acquired the 38-year-old knuckleballer and catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas. The Mets got top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and veteran catcher John Buck, plus minor league right-hander Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra.

``It was an extraordinary privilege for us to be part of his career,'' Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said about Dickey on a conference call. ``The final chapter has not been written.''

Earlier in the day, Dickey and the busy Blue Jays agreed to a new contract, clearing the way for the Mets to send him to a team that's spending a lot of money trying to join baseball's elite. Toronto has now acquired All-Stars Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera and Dickey since the season ended.

Dickey was already signed for $5.25 million next year. His new contract adds two more seasons for $25 million - he will get $12 million in both 2014 and 2015, plus there's a club option for 2016 at $12 million with a $1 million buyout.

``We're just so close to contention,'' Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. ``It's not just about one season. This allows us to put what we feel is a contending team together for an extended run, for a three-to-five-year period.''

Dickey needed to pass a physical before the teams announced the deal. He became the fourth pitcher to win the Cy Young and be traded before the next season, joining David Cone, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens.

Alderson said the Mets' preference going into the offseason was to re-sign Dickey. But as the winter meetings approached in early December, Alderson said Dickey's value ``in a possible trade was also sky-rocketing. At some point, those lines crossed.''

Several teams made runs at a deal for Dickey, with Texas and the Los Angeles Angels among those in the mix. Alderson said while some clubs popped in and out of trade talks, Toronto's interest remained steady.

Alderson said the Mets didn't completely decide to trade Dickey until they saw the final package that Toronto offered.

``This was a complicated deal,'' Alderson said.

The Blue Jays have missed the playoffs since winning their second straight World Series crown in 1993, and have boldly moved to reshape a team that went 73-89 last season in the rugged AL East.

Last month, they acquired a high-priced trio - Johnson and Buehrle on the mound, Reyes at shortstop - in a 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins.

Toronto later signed Cabrera, an All-Star outfielder with San Francisco whose season ended when he was suspended 50 games for a positive testosterone test.

Dickey was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA last season, capping his rapid rise from the majors' scrap heap to an ace pitcher. He did it by perfecting a way to throw his floater faster than previous knuckleballers, and tossing it with exceptional control.

Dickey becomes part of a stellar Toronto rotation that includes Johnson, Buehrle and returning starters Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.

``We clearly are convinced this can be a front-line starter for us,'' Anthopoulos said. ``I don't think he gets the credit or the respect he deserves because of his age, and because of what he does throw. And I understand because it's so rare.

``But there's so much overwhelming data and evidence that points to him continuing to have this success.''

Thole gives the Blue Jays a catcher who is familiar with handling Dickey's knuckleball, and Anthopoulos said that relationship was a key to the deal.

``R.A. is too important to our chances to take a chance and have a tryout camp to see if someone can catch him,'' he said.

Thole joins a lineup that features former home run champ Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers last season.

Despite a big spot in the rotation to fill minus Dickey, Alderson said the Mets were not giving up on next season.

``We certainly are not punting on 2013,'' he said.

D'Arnaud turns 24 in February. He hit .333 at Triple-A Las Vegas with 16 homers and 52 RBIs before tearing a knee ligament trying to break up a double play in June. He has been an All-Star at several levels during his climb through the minors.

Alderson called d'Arnaud the top catching prospect in the minors and predicted he could contribute on the major league level next year.

``As painful as it was to trade the kids that we did trade, it might be three or four years down the road before they become All-Star status, or whatever is going to happen to them,'' Anthopoulos said. ``At that time Reyes could be gone, Buehrle could be gone, Bautista could be gone, Encarnacion could be gone. We have no idea what our core will look like.''

Popular with Mets fans, Dickey perturbed team management when he spoke about his contract situation last week during a club event at Citi Field for children displaced from their schools by Superstorm Sandy.

Dickey said he enjoyed playing for the Mets and added it would be ``disappointing'' if he went through his option year without a new deal and became a free agent.

``If that's the decision that they make, I feel like it would be unfortunate because it probably is going to mean that I'm not going to be back,'' Dickey said then. ``And that would be sad.''

Buck was an All-Star with Toronto in 2010. The 32-year-old hit .192 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs for Miami last season, then was part of the big trade between Marlins and Blue Jays.

The 20-year-old Syndergaard went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA for Class A Lansing. The 18-year-old Becerra hit .250 with four RBIs in 11 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League.

Thole hit .234 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 104 games last season. The 26-year-old played four seasons with the Mets.

Nickeas split last season with the Mets and Triple-A Buffalo. The 29-year-old hit .174 with one homer and 13 RBIs for New York.

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John Carlson's return to All-Star Game further cements his place among NHL's elite

John Carlson's return to All-Star Game further cements his place among NHL's elite

ST. LOUIS -- During the "Young Guns" era of the Capitals, Washington's hockey team was known for one thing and one thing only: Offense. Even the biggest name defenseman on the roster, Mike Green, was an offensive defenseman. He was among one of the top offensive producers in the game, but his defensive acumen often left much to be desired. When Green left Washington, John Carlson was quickly painted with the same brush.

A defenseman who can put up numbers playing with the Caps? Well, he must not be any good defensively. That perception followed Carlson for many years and he never seemed to get the recognition that his all-around play warranted.

Now in his second straight All-Star Game, that perception finally seems to have changed. Now there is no question that Carlson ranks among the top defensemen in the league, at least according to some of the game's biggest stars.

"I enjoy watching his highlights and just seeing where I can pick up from him," Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes said. "He's having a great year and it's good for him."

"I just feel like he's been on fire right from the first game of the year," said Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano, who won the Norris Trophy last year as the league's top defenseman. "To be able to put up those type of numbers, trust me, it's looking a lot easier than it really is out there."

Carlson has finished in the top-five in the Norris in each of the past two seasons, but has never been a finalist. Now at the All-Star Break he appears to be the front-runner.

The Pro Hockey Writers' Association released its midseason awards on Thursday, a good reflection of where the trophy races stand at this point in the season. Carlson was voted No. 1 for the Norris. That should come as no surprise considering the historic season Carlson is having.

Through 49 games, Carlson has 60 points, the most among all defensemen. That puts him on pace for exactly 100 points by the end fo the season, a mark that has not been reached by a blue liner since Brian Leetch in the 1991-92 season. Heck, no defenseman has even reached 90 points since Ray Bourque in 1993-4. That's how rare and how special Carlson's current season is.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," T.J. Oshie said of Carlson's season. "Ever since I got to the Caps, you can kind of tell that he wasn't fully matured yet and his game wasn't to the level that it was going to get to yet. Over the last four and a half years now, he seems to just keep growing, keep getting better, keep getting smarter, more experienced. "

One-hundred points is a special number among defensemen as plenty noted at All-Star media day.

"It's pretty special," Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. "I mean, 100 points, that's a lot of points. Just for him to be on pace for that is pretty special."

"For a lot of guys it's unrealistic so you don't really focus too much about it," Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said, "But with the way he's playing and with the consistencies he's having with the production this year, I hope he breaks it."

But while Carlson's offensive production is certainly driving the Norris conversation, that is not why he is looked upon so highly around the league. He is praised as one of the top defensemen because of what he is doing at both ends of the ice.

"As a D-man, you look back, you talk about offensive defensemen, you talk about defensive defensemen. Nowaday you talk about two-way defensemen and John Carlson is a great two-way defenseman," Hedman said. "He plays against another team's top lines, power play, PK and production at that rate is unheard of."

For those who work with Carlson, the attention and praise Carlson is finally getting is overdue. To them, his play is only confirming what they already knew, that he is one of the best defensemen in the game.

"We're not perfect in any aspect of our game right now, but we're in a good spot because of John Carlson," head coach Todd Reirden said. "He's really received some more recognition than he has in the past and it's all well-deserved."

"Everyone talks about the points he has which are pretty amazing and pretty special," Oshie said. "But his play all around, playing PK, playing big minutes defensively, to play against other team's top units and top lines, in my eyes I think he's the best defenseman in the league."

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