Welcome a new writer to Pirates Breakdown – Anthony Scherer! Here is his first piece.
He grew up in Pittsburgh, when the Pirates were good and Barry Bonds was skinny. He graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with degrees in journalism and communications media, and Cape Girardeau, MO, where he works at Southeast Missouri State University, producing live sports productions for ESPN+. His favorite Pirates moment hasn’t happened yet, but it will when the Pirates win a World Series title in his liftetime.
The Winter Meetings are coming and one player that I don’t see many fans thinking could have an effect on the Pirates plans for these meetings is Gold Glove outfielder Corey Dickerson.
Dickerson came to the Pirates last February in a trade that sent reliever Daniel Hudson, a minor leaguer and $1M to the Tampa Bay Rays. Dickerson had what I would call a very solid year for the Pirates in 2018, hitting .300 with 13 home runs, 55 RBI’s and a 2.2 WAR. To top those numbers off he also won a Gold Glove in left field.
All of those numbers point to Dickerson being a contributor on the Pirates in 2019, but count me as skeptical that he will be on the team once the season starts in Cincinnati on March 28.
The reason has nothing to do with Dickerson the player, it has to do with the lack of control Dickerson has left on team-friendly terms. He has one year left of arbitration and the estimated cost is $8.4M according to MLB Trade Rumors.
We’re talking about a team in the Pirates that like to sell off assets going into the last few years of control when the asset has the right value. For example, look at the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen trades from last season. Cole had two years left and McCutchen was in the final year of team control. Go back further and look how Neil Walker was shown the door going into his last season of team control.
Fans can disagree with the return the Pirates received for those three players, but it shows their willingness to trade a player knowing they have value remaining.
So… what is the case for the Pirates to trade Dickerson and the case against it.
The case against it is obvious. He’s a very solid outfielder with a history of hitting 20 or more home runs a season, and has a .284 BA and .326 OBP over his career. Plus, the Pirates are in what looks to be in compete-now mode with the trades for Chris Archer and Keone Kela last July and selling of top 10 prospects in Austin Meadows, Taylor Hearn and Shane Baz to get those guys.
You couple that with the loss of outfielder Gregory Polanco for, at best, the first part of the regular season and it looks like Dickerson is a lock to make the Pirates opening day lineup.
However, I’m going back to the point the Pirates have been a team that is willing to take the heat for selling a guy with value left to recoup other guys that have more control. To the Pirates, it’s about the long game. Even their trades this past July were in part, win now, but also win later.
Archer is under team control through 2021 if the team decides to pick up his options ($8.25M in ’20 and ’21) and Kela has two more years of arbitration left in ’19 and ’20.
For the Pirates, trading Dickerson for starting pitcher or a middle infield prospect may not be out of the realm of possibilities. Keep in mind the Pirates have four of their top 10 prospects who are outfielders, so even if Dickerson were to start the season with the Pirates, I don’t see them signing him long term if they feel confident Bryan Reynolds‘ development. Reynolds could be ready in 2019 and is somebody they want to take a long look at. You also have 2018 first-round pick Travis Swaggerty, who could be a fast-mover through the system.
All of this boil down to me is that Dickerson won’t be a Pirate for much longer. I think he could be on the move in the winter meetings to get some more help in the system in much weaker positions such as middle infield.
The Pirates already added Lonnie Chisenhall to the team on a one-year deal. They could play Pablo Reyes in left if a Dickerson trade happens and go with Chisenhall in right. Adam Frazier looks like he will be the starting second baseman, but the Pirates could explore options in free agency for that position instead and move Frazier to left.
The possibilities of it are slim, but I think most fans have to remember it’s the Pirates and they will make moves that they will think will help this year, but also in the years to come.