Cy and goodbye: Mets trade Dickey to Blue Jays

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Cy and goodbye: Mets trade Dickey to Blue Jays

NEW YORK (AP) Cy ya later.

R.A. Dickey and his nasty knuckleball are headed north of the border.

After weeks of speculation and then a weekend spent ironing out the last few details, the New York Mets finally traded the NL Cy Young Award winner to the Toronto Blue Jays in a seven-player swap Monday.

``I can't tell you how excited I am to be part of an organization that's committed to winning and putting a product on the field that the fans can be excited about,'' Dickey said Tuesday. ``A lot of people say these things at the beginning of spring training and the beginning of all new things, but I think in this particular case that the reason it feels so good is because it's so true, and you don't feel like you're tying to convince yourself of the things that you're saying.''

Toronto acquired the 38-year-old Dickey 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.

Earlier in the day, Dickey and the busy Blue Jays agreed to a new contract adding $25 million over two years clearing the way for New York to send him to a team that's spending a lot of money trying to join baseball's elite.

General manager Sandy 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 on a conference call.

Dickey was already signed for $5.25 million next year, including a $250,000 escalator. His new contract drops next year's salary to $5 million, adds $12 million salaries for both 2014 and 2015, and includes a $12 million club option for 2016 with a $1 million buyout.

Dickey said New York's initial offer would have added $14 million over two years and the Mets increased it to $20 million.

``It's think it's important for me to grieve leaving New York,'' he said. ``I had proverbial home there. I had a home among fans. I had a home in an organization. I had a lot of success there, and I think it's important for me to be sad about that for a moment before I move on to the next feeling.''

Toronto has now acquired All-Stars Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera and Dickey since the season ended.

``We're just so close to contention,'' Blue Jays GM 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 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 sign Dickey to a multiyear deal. 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.

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.

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.

``It was an extraordinary privilege for us to be part of his career,'' Alderson said. ``The final chapter has not been written.''

Dickey joins 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.

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.

Alderson called d'Arnaud, who turns 24 in February, the top catching prospect in the minors and predicted he could contribute on the major league level next year. 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.

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 homers and 41 RBIs for Miami last season, then was part of the blockbuster trade between the 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, 26, hit .234 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 104 games this year. The 29-year-old Nickeas split last season between the Mets and Triple-A Buffalo. He batted .174 with one homer and 13 RBIs for New York.

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AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.

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The Caps are hopeful Matt Niskanen avoided serious injury

The Caps are hopeful Matt Niskanen avoided serious injury

PHILADELPHIA—The Capitals are hoping the injury suffered by Matt Niskanen during Wednesday’s 4-1 win over the Flyers is not serious.

The veteran defenseman’s left leg appeared to buckle after a leg-on-leg collision with rugged Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas in the second period. You can see the replay in the video above. Niskanen returned for one shift but exited the game shortly thereafter and did not return.

As he walked out of the visitors’ dressing room following the game, he appeared to have a slight hitch in his step.  

“We don’t think it’s too serious,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ll look at him tomorrow.”

Trotz added: “When he first was diagnosed by our trainers it was more precautionary. We’ll get our doctors to look at that, and we’ll see where we are tomorrow.”

RELATED: Two disallowed goals for Flyers help Caps earn first win post-bye

Trotz said he did not take issue with the play that resulted in the injury. Gudas was pursuing Marcus Johansson in the corner when he appeared to turn into Niskanen, clipping Niskanen's leg. Niskanen was also bumped from behind by Wayne Simmonds on the play.

“No, he just got tangled up on a couple of guys,” Trotz said. “I haven’t looked at it that closely, on their defenseman [Gudas] coming down. I think [Niskanen] got wedged between two guys.”

Niskanen, 30, plays a vital role for the Capitals, skating an average 22:26 per game, including important minutes on the power play and penalty kill.

If his latest injury causes him to miss any time, the Capitals will not need to make a move as they have six healthy defensemen on the roster. The team could, however, call up veteran Tom Gilbert, whom they acquired last week via trade as injury insurance.  

Niskanen missed one game earlier this season due to an upper-body injury.

MORE CAPITALS: Breakdown of the Flyers two no-goals vs. Capitals

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Two disallowed goals sink Flyers as Caps earn first win after the bye

Two disallowed goals sink Flyers as Caps earn first win after the bye

Final score: Washington Capitals 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1

How it happened: The Flyers scored just 23 seconds in, but Barry Trotz came up with a heads up challenge for goalie interference that revealed that Dale Weise pushed Braden Holtby. In the second period, the Flyers had what they thought was their first goal, but replay showed the shot hit off the crossbar and never crossed the line. After two disallowed goals, the Flyers could not recover.

Washington responded to the lifeline in the first period with goals from Nicklas Backstrom and a laser from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Brayden Schenn pulled Philadelphia back within one in the second period, but Kuznetsov's second of the night put the Caps back in control. T.J. Oshie would add an insurance tally in the third.

What it means: The Caps earned their first win after the bye week and seventh in their last nine game. Washington now sits three points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the top record in the NHL and the Metropolitan Division by five.

Goals

Capitals goal: Nicklas Backstrom from T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin at 6:33 in the first. Oshie and Ovechkin teamed up for a fantastic forecheck effort which forced the puck to the boards. Backstrom eventually emerged from the scrum with it and wristed a knuckler into the top shelf. Caps 1, Flyers 0

Capitals goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov (power play) from Justin Williams and John Carlson at 16:28 in the first. With the Caps set up on the power play, Kuznetsov just squared up and wristed a lazer into the top shelf. No one saw the puck go in but Kuznetsov and the ref. Caps 2, Flyers 0

Flyers goal: Brayden Schenn from Brandon Manning at 6:54 in the second. The Caps failed to clear the puck out of the zone allowing Manning to collect. He fired the slap shot and Schenn got his stick on the puck for the deflection. Caps 2, Flyers 1

Capitals goal: Evgeny Kuznetsov from Justin Williams and Taylor Chorney at 17:59 in the second. Taylor Chorney was quick to get the puck up ice to launch the Caps on the counter attack. Williams carried it into the offensive zone and Kuznetsov tried the quick pass, but the puck hit off of defenseman Radko Gudas’ stick and deflected into the net. Caps 3, Flyers 1

Capitals goal: T.J. Oshie from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom at 15:23 in the third. A fantastic pass by Ovechkin sparked the rush. Oshie returned the favor to Ovechkin who nearly beat Neuvirth for the goal with the deke. The puck trickled its way to the goal line and Oshie tapped it in for insurance. Caps 4, Flyers 1

3 Stars

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov: Kuznetsov can be a hit or miss player sometimes. He was an absolute hit on Wednesday. Kuznetsov's first-period goal was an incredible shot lasered into the top shelf. It was in and out so fast only he and the ref knew it was in. When a player is playing well, he is often rewarded with good puck luck as well and that was true of Kuznetsov as his second goal came on a pass that was deflected through the five-hole of Michal Neuvirth by the stick of Gudas. And that's just what you see on the scoresheet. Kuzy's hands were on display all night as he deked and dangled all over the ice.

2. T.J. Oshie: Oshie scored the insurance tally in the third period, but Oshie gets the second star for his effort on the forecheck, not the offense. The top line was all over the Flyers every time they were on the ice to the point that Philadelphia struggled to exit their own zone. The Caps' first goal of the game came as a result of the turnover generated by Oshie's work on the forecheck.

3. Taylor Chorney: Playing in his first game since Jan. 26, Chorney did not look like he was working through any rust. He had a few offensive opportunities as well and his quick reaction in the second period sparked a counter attack that led to Kuznetsov's second goal.

Look ahead: The Caps finally return home to host Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. Then, it’s another quick turnaround on Saturday as Washington will play the Predators in Nashville on Saturday at 5 p.m., 22 hours after the start of Friday’s game.

Tell us what you think: Philadelphia thought they had taken the lead 23 seconds into the game, but Trotz's challenge restored the score to 0-0. How important was that challenge for the Caps and how much did it determine the outcome of the game?