Last night the Tampa Bay Rays made the peculiar decision to designate for assignment OF/DH Corey Dickerson. Dickerson, 28 years old, is coming off a campaign where he slashed .282/.325/.490 with 27 round-trippers and was worth 2.6 fWAR. Corey was also the All-Star starter at DH for the American League in 2017. Needless to say, you can imagine most any team in baseball being interested in acquiring an in-his-prime All-Star for cheap. Dickerson is owed just $5.95 million for next season, and is under control through 2019. Out of the many teams that will be interested in Dickerson’s services, let’s take a look at some that make the most sense.
Marlins fans have endured a terror of an off-season. The new front office has traded away all three of their starting outfielders, and has essentially waived the white flag for the immediate future. One way Derek Jeter and company could earn some goodwill back in Miami would be to steal away Dickerson from the other Florida team. The Marlins have plenty of open outfield spots to slot Dickerson into, and he could give the franchise a recognizable face to root for through the rebuilding years. Additionally, Dickerson’s power hitting would be a welcome addition to a line-up that currently lacks depth.
The name of the game for both sides, of course, is cost. The Rays must make a deal or risk losing Dickerson for nothing, but will not struggle to find a trade partner. The Marlins have recently added some minor-league depth due to their several winter deals, but are likely unwilling to deal any of their best talents for a guy that won’t move the needle in terms of competing. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a match to be made, though the Rays may be able to do better elsewhere. The Marlins also have been in salary shedding mode this off-season, and even though Dickerson has a relatively modest salary next year, ownership may not be willing to spend much more money.
Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox came into the off-season needing to upgrade their offense. They now head into Spring Training still needing to accomplish that very goal. They are in a never-ending negotiation stare down with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez, and risk ending up with nothing if he lands elsewhere. Perhaps Boston could instead turn their attention to Dickerson in that case. While not as prolific with the bat as Martinez, Dickerson is the better fielder at this point, making a four-outfielder rotation easier to navigate.
There is always the obstacle of inner-division trades to overcome, but the Rays have shown a willingness to deal within the AL East recently. The Red Sox also don’t have the deepest farm system by any means, so it comes down to how the market for Dickerson shakes out. However, in a vacuum the fit makes a lot of sense, and I could see a match coming together if Martinez heads elsewhere.
The other end of the J.D. Martinez spectrum. Arizona’s line-up looks considerably different without Martinez, and they could instead turn to Dickerson to replace some of that missing thump. Also, as mentioned previously, Dickerson is the stronger of the two with the glove, which is notable considering the Diamondbacks spacious outfield. Additionally, Dickerson’s left-handed bat would fit well between righty’s AJ Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt atop the Arizona line-up.
The Diamondbacks have enough depth in their farm system to get a deal done. One obstacle is money, as they have been saying all off-season they can’t expand their payroll too much more. One way to offset the salary could be to deal LHP Patrick Corbin in a separate deal, or perhaps expand this into a three-team swap. Regardless, there is enough need and want from both sides to make a deal work. On paper, this seems to be one of the strongest fits amongst interested teams.
It would all come full circle. Corey Dickerson spent 2013-2015 in Colorado before being dealt to Tampa Bay in the first place. Colorado has an obvious need for offensive upgrades, especially now that Gerardo Parra is questionable for opening day. While they have a couple options to fill their outfield voids, none are as established as Dickerson. For a team that is chasing a playoff spot while they still have Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado under contract, adding an impact bat makes sense. They would also potentially be keeping him from the division rival Diamondbacks.
I would think the Rockies have enough to find a match. They have several power arms both at the major league and minor league levels that could intrigue the Rays, as well as some infield depth. The Rockies also have David Dahl and Raimel Tapia who are major league ready outfielders, but I don’t think they’d be willing to trade either one for Dickerson. Regardless, the Rockies have a pretty obvious need for a productive outfielder, and bringing back Dickerson to fill that hole could be the perfect match.
Philadelphia Phillies / Detroit Tigers
I am going to pool these two together, because it’s the same line of thinking. Both teams are rebuilding and could use as much talent as possible. Getting an All-Star at a discounted price is a move that every rebuilding team should pounce on. Even if Dickerson doesn’t stick around to be on the next great Phillies or Tigers team, perhaps he could be flipped for an interesting prospect in the next two years that could push the rebuild along a little further. The move is a no-brainer for either team if the price is right.
The Phillies have the prospects to get a deal done. The Tigers are pretty short on minor league talent. Best-case scenario, if either of these teams were interested, they would land Dickerson off waivers. The Tigers would have first dibs, and the Phillies would have third, based on last year’s records. You’d have to think if either team has the chance they would put a waiver claim in, but it seems more likely Dickerson will be traded before he can get to that point. Even if it isn’t off the waiver wire, it makes sense for both of these teams to check in on the price of acquiring Dickerson.