The Tampa Bay Rays continued their early spring training tear down on Thursday, sending Corey Dickerson to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tampa Bay Rays front office is clearly fulfilling a mandate to cut payroll, with trades sending starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi and outfielder Steven Souza elsewhere just in the last handful of days to go along with the deal that sent third baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants earlier this winter. Corey Dickerson was designated for assignment last Saturday, and on Thursday the Rays sent him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for reliever Daniel Hudson, minor league infielder Tristan Gray and cash considerations.
Dickerson was the starting DH for the American League in last year’s All-Star Game, as he finished with .282/.325/.490 slash-line with 24 home runs and 62 RBI over 629 plate appearances. But with a late fade (.232/.273/.397 slash-line and 10 home runs with a 28.4 percent strikeout rate after July 1), being a slightly negative value left fielder (-0.9 Defensive WAR last year, via Baseball Reference) and being due $5.95 million this season, Dickerson was deemed to be a disposable piece for Tampa Bay.
Dickerson should step right in as Pittsburgh’s primary left fielder, over Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow, Michael Saunders or Daniel Nava in place of the departed Andrew McCutchen. The left-handed hitting 28-year old (29 on May 22) has gotten over 77 percent of his career plate appearances against right-handed pitchers with an .866 career OPS against them. So some sort of platoon is obvious for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, if he deploys Dickerson properly.
They once stood as two examples that smaller market teams can succeed in baseball, however fleeting it was and with a general ceiling of simply making the postseason. But the Pirates and Rays have both shed veteran players this offseason in an effort to slash payroll, as both franchises reset in order to rebuild.