Shut out like most everyone else at the winter meetings, the Seattle Mariners landed a starting pitcher Thursday – selecting 33-year-old knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey in the Rule 5 Draft.
A first-round pick in 1996, Dickey had a long climb to the majors with the Texas Rangers, but didn’t start throwing a knuckleball until 2005. A right-hander, Dickey had a 16-19 major league record with a 5.72 earned run average.
Returning to the minor leagues and taking up the knuckler fulltime, however, Dickey seemed to find the touch on that pitch last year, when he went 13-6 with a 3.72 in Class AAA Nashville.
More impressive, after June 1 Dickey went 10-2 with a 2.50 ERA.
The Mariners had great scouting reports on Dickey, and will bring him to spring training as a starting pitcher/long relief candidate. As a Rule 5 draftee, Dickey must stay on the club’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Twins.
Among the intriguing aspects of the move: The team isn’t certain catcher Kenji Johjima has ever caught a knuckleball.