Eager for a new challenge and certainly a better chance to win, R.A. Dickey broke the news of his trade even before the Blue Jays and Mets.
A few minutes ahead of the teams announcing the seven-player swap Monday that sent the NL Cy Young winner to Toronto, he tweeted his thanks to New York 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 catcher John Buck, plus minor league righthander 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, MelkyCabrera, 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.
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 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 rotation that includes Johnson, Buehrle, and returning starters Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
Thole gives Toronto a catcher who is familiar with Dickey’s knuckleball. He joins a lineup that features former home run champ Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers last season.
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 in June. Alderson called d’Arnaud the top catching prospect in the minors and predicted he could contribute on the major league level next year.
Buck, 32, was an All-Star with Toronto in 2010. He hit .192 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs for Miami last season, then was part of the big trade to the Blue Jays.
Syndergaard, 20, went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA for Single A Lansing. Becerra, 18, 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 last season. Nickeas, 29, split last season with the Mets and Triple-A Buffalo.
Casilla, Giants agree
Righthanded reliever Santiago Casilla and the San Francisco Giants agreed to a $15 million, three-year contract. The deal, which is pending a physical, includes a club/vesting option for the 2016 season. The World Series champions have done their best this winter to keep the 2012 roster intact, re-signing center fielder Angel Pagan, second baseman Marco Scutaro, and lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt to multiyear contracts. Casilla went 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 25 saves in 73 appearances covering 63⅓ innings last season . . . Anibal Sanchez hadn’t gone anywhere, really, and yet here he was getting a big ‘‘welcome back’’ from Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski. ‘‘It’s nice to have you back in that jersey again,’’ Dombrowski said to his righthander. It wasn’t cheap. Detroit’s deal with Sanchez is worth $80 million over five years, a person familiar with it told The Associated Press. The team said it has an option for a sixth season. Sanchez, 28, helped Detroit reach the World Series last season. He had a 1.77 ERA in 20⅓ innings over three postseason starts.
A’s sign Nakajima
Two people with knowledge of the negotiations said the Athletics agreed to sign shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan’s Seibu Lions. The A’s called a news conference for Tuesday described as a ‘‘major announcement.’’ Nakajima agreed to a $6.5 million, two-year contract, which includes a $5.5 million option for a third season, one of the people said. Nakajima, a seven-time Pacific League All-Star, has a .302 batting average with 149 home runs, 664 RBIs, and 134 stolen bases over 11 seasons with Seibu . . . The Astros signed veteran Carlos Pena to be their designated hitter, addressing a key need as they prepare for their first season in the AL. Pena, 34, spent last season in his second stint with Tampa Bay and hit .197 with 19 home runs and 61 RBIs . . . The Cubs signed third baseman Ian Stewart. Under terms of the one-year deal, Stewart is guaranteed $2 million if he makes the Opening Day roster and can earn another $500,000 in incentives . . . Rays minor league outfielder Cody Rogers was suspended 50 games after refusing to take an offseason drug test.