R.A. Dickey making the rounds in hometown of Nashville

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By: Bob Elliott

Canadian Baseball Network

NASHVILLE _ R.A. Dickey was averaging about 14 strides before being stopped by someone for another handshake.


It was to be expected when the winter meetings are held in your home town, when you’ve played with five different organizations and you walk through the hotel lobby as scouts and executives are lining up to check in.

“That’s what happens when you are entering your 20th season,” Dickey said. 

Dickey has watched comings and goings at 1 Blue Jays Way from afar: re-signing Marco Estrada, signing free agent J.A. Happ, trading for Jesse Chavez and re-signing catcher Josh Thole.

And that was about all that has happened since the Jays didn’t score in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series despite having runners at the corners and none out.


Oh yeah ... there was that matter of general manager Alex Anthopoulos deciding working for new Jays president Mark Shapiro was not the right fit for him. 

Dickey said he had spoken to Anthopoulos and exchanged texts.

“You have to hold both feelings,” Dickey said, “the sadness and grief ... we embarked on a shared journey. Alex had a vision (to win a World Series) and almost saw it to completion.”

And on the other hand ...

“Is the business component. I’m excited to see what he has going for him in the future.”

Dickey said when he spoke to Anthopoulos the former GM was emotional “although not any more than normal.”

“I guess he felt he wasn’t going to have the autonomy that he had had before,” Dickey said. 

Anthopoulos called players on long-term deals, as well as Josh Donaldson, before Rogers Communications made the announcement he was not returning.

The last time the winter meetings were in Nashville, Dickey was a member of the New York Mets. He was soon dealt to the Jays with catchers Mike Nickeas and Thole for Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra.

Dickey was 11-11 with a 3.91 ERA in 33 starts in 2015. He has averaged a 3.95 ERA, 34 starts and 218 innings in his three years in the Jays rotation.

“We still have some obvious holes,” Dickey said, “it’s great that we have added Marco and J.A. but Mark (Shapiro) and Ross (Atkins) have work to do.”

If the season opened on Monday the Jays would have a rotation of Marcus Stroman, Estrada, Dickey, Happ, along with either Drew Hutchison or Chavez.

“Not many teams survive a season with five starters,” Dickey said. “You usually need seven or eight. I don’t know if we have a physical body left at (triple-A) Buffalo.”

The American League East Division champs used 12 starters in 2015: Dickey (who made 33 starts),  Mark Buehrle (32), Estrada (28), Hutchison (28), David Price (11), Aaron Sanchez (11), Daniel Norris (five), Stroman (four), Felix Doubront (four), Scott Copeland (three), Matt Boyd (two) and Todd Redmond (one).

The Jays are looking for help due to the fact ...

Buehrle will likely retire.

Hutchison is either overlooked or remains a puzzle.

An offer was never made to Price, who signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Sanchez is currently in the bullpen.

Norris and Boyd were dealt to Detroit Tigers in the Price deal.

Copeland filed for free agency.

And Redmond signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

The 1992 Blue Jays won with nine starters, led by Jack Morris, Jimmy Key, Juan Guzman, Todd Stottlemyre and Dave Stieb, while the 1993 World Series champs had eight led by Guzman, Pat Hentgen, Stottlemyre, Morris and Dave Stewart.

The Buffalo Bisons used 19 starters this season: Randy Wolf, Copeland, Norris, Andrew Albers, Jeff Francis, Chad Jenkins, Redmond, Doubront, Boyd, Miguel Castro, Phillippe Aumont, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Joel Pineiro, Hutchison, Casey Lawrence, Rob Rasmussen, Donn Roach, Sanchez and Stroman.

There is work to be done. 

NO OFFER TO PRICE: It’s not really news that the Blue Jays made an executive division not to make a contract offer to their free agent lefty David Price.

It is news -- and not good news, the kind that will warm the hearts of Jays fans in this off-season of discontent -- to hear what Price’s agent Bo McKinnis told Jim Bowden on SiriusXM Radio.

“The Blue Jays were the biggest surprise. David would have absolutely gone back there,” McKinnis said Sunday. “That was the toughest part of this and I’m surprised we did not get an offer.

“He had a wonderful time there and the bulk of the club is back there and he would’ve enjoyed being with them.”

Price signed a seven-year, $217-million deal with the Boston Red Sox, the Jays rival.

New Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said on Friday the club did not “aggressively” pursue Price, preferring to diversify as it spend its cash.

Toronto spent $62 million locking up J.A. Happ to a three-year $36 million deal after his strong two months with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Estrada to a two-year, $26-million contract.

Would it have been wiser for Rogers Communications to spend more on Price, a free agent who wanted to stay with the Jays?