Dickey becomes part of a stellar Toronto rotation that includes Johnson, Buehrle and returning starters Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow.
"We clearly are convinced this can be a front-line starter for us," Anthopoulos said. "I don't think he gets the credit or the respect he deserves because of his age, and because of what he does throw. And I understand because it's so rare.
"But there's so much overwhelming data and evidence that points to him continuing to have this success."
Thole gives the Blue Jays a catcher who is familiar with handling Dickey's knuckleball, and Anthopoulos said that relationship was a key to the deal.
"R.A. is too important to our chances to take a chance and have a tryout camp to see if someone can catch him," he said.
Thole joins a lineup that features former home run champ Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers last season.
Despite a big spot in the rotation to fill minus Dickey, Alderson said the Mets were not giving up on next season.
"We certainly are not punting on 2013," he said.
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 trying to break up a double play in June. He has been an All-Star at several levels during his climb through the minors.
Alderson called d'Arnaud the top catching prospect in the minors and predicted he could contribute on the major league level next year.
"As painful as it was to trade the kids that we did trade, it might be three or four years down the road before they become All-Star status, or whatever is going to happen to them," Anthopoulos said. "At that time Reyes could be gone, Buehrle could be gone, Bautista could be gone, Encarnacion could be gone. We have no idea what our core will look like."
Popular with Mets fans, Dickey perturbed team management when he spoke about his contract situation last week during a club event at Citi Field for children displaced from their schools by Superstorm Sandy.
Dickey said he enjoyed playing for the Mets and added it would be "disappointing" if he went through his option year without a new deal and became a free agent.
"If that's the decision that they make, I feel like it would be unfortunate because it probably is going to mean that I'm not going to be back," Dickey said then. "And that would be sad."
Buck was an All-Star with Toronto in 2010. The 32-year-old hit .192 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs for Miami last season, then was part of the big trade between Marlins and Blue Jays.
The 20-year-old Syndergaard went 8-5 with a 2.60 ERA for Class A Lansing. The 18-year-old Becerra hit .250 with four RBIs in 11 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League.
Thole hit .234 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 104 games last season. The 26-year-old played four seasons with the Mets.
Nickeas split last season with the Mets and Triple-A Buffalo. The 29-year-old hit .174 with one homer and 13 RBIs for New York.