ATLANTA – The Atlanta Braves announced the signing of veteran right-hander R.A. Dickey on Thursday. The one-year contract includes an option for 2018 and is pending a physical. This marks the first free agent signing of the winter across baseball.
Dickey, 42, will make $7.5 million in 2017 , while Atlanta holds an $8 million team option with a $500,000 buyout for 2018 according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. That puts the total guarantee of the deal at $8 million.
Dickey went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts when he won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award with the New York Mets, but has spent the last four seasons with Toronto. He was 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA in 30 appearances (29 starts) for the Blue Jays last season. A 14-year veteran, Dickey holds a lifetime record of 110-108 with a 4.01 ERA and 1,341 strikeouts in 1883.2 IP for five clubs.
The durable knuckle-baller has averaged 211 innings over the last six seasons, something which could help stabilize a Braves rotation in need of an innings-eater type starter to add to the starting five. He will obviously become the elder statesman on what will likely be a very young rotation otherwise.
With Dickey on board, the Braves will continue to scour both the free-agent and trade markets to add at least one more starter. All-Star Julio Teheran and hard-throwing Mike Foltynewicz exited 2016 as the only holdovers assured of spots in the Atlanta rotation next season. General manager John Coppolella has expressed his club’s desire to add at least two starters this winter. Dickey marks the first of those.
A key aspect of the Dickey signing to keep in mind is that it’s a short-term contract. While the team hopes he will make a nice contribution in 2017, this deal does not block the development of the many up-and-coming arms in the minor league system. The Braves entered the winter somewhat short-handed in rotation for 2017, but the club very much wants to keep the path clear for the talented arms waiting in the wings. Among those who could find their way to the majors this year are left-handers Sean Newcomb and Max Fried.
Dickey is from Nashville and played baseball at the University of Tennessee before being taken in the first round (18th overall) of the 1996 draft by the Rangers. He made his big league debut with Texas in 2001 and has also pitched for the Mariners, Twins, Mets and Blue Jays.