Eager for a new challenge and certainly a better chance to win, R. A. Dickey broke the news of his trade even before the Toronto Blue Jays...

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NEW YORK — Eager for a new challenge and certainly a better chance to win, R.A. Dickey broke the news of his trade even before the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets.

A few minutes ahead of the teams announcing the seven-player swap Monday that sent the NL Cy Young Award winner to Toronto, he tweeted his thanks to Mets 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.

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Toronto acquired the 38-year-old knuckleballer 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, 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 acquired All-Stars Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera 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.

“We’re just so close to contention,” Blue Jays general manager 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 Award and be traded before the next season, joining David Cone, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets wanted to re-sign Dickey. But as the winter meetings approached, Alderson said Dickey’s value “in a possible trade was also skyrocketing. 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.

Dickey was 20-6 with a 2.73 earned-run average 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.

Japanese SS

to sign with A’s

OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland has agreed to sign shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan’s Seibu Lions, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. The AL West champion A’s called a news conference for Tuesday described as a “major announcement.”

Nakajima agreed to a $6.5 million, two-year contract, according to the sources. The seven-time Pacific League All-Star has a .302 batting average with 149 home runs, 664 runs batted in and 134 stolen bases over 11 seasons with Seibu.

Astros add veteran Carlos Pena

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros wanted to add power to their lineup and a veteran presence to their young team.

They think they got both by signing Carlos Pena.

Pena, who also plays first base, will be the Astros’ designated hitter in their first season in the American League.

The 34-year-old Pena hit .197 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI for Tampa Bay last season. Terms of his one-year deal were not released.

He has 277 homers with 791 RBI in a 12-year career.


Free agent Nick Swisher is visiting the Cleveland Indians, who have a hole to fill in right field after trading ShinSoo Choo to Cincinnati last week as part of a three-team, nine-player deal.

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