Corey Dickerson was designated for assignment by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The Rays now have about a week left to trade their left-handed outfielder or he will become a free agent. The Orioles, who have been looking for a serviceable left-handed bat all winter in order to balance their right-handed heavy lineup, have immediately been linked with Dickerson. But there are better options available that more closely align with Baltimore’s needs.
Dickerson had a good season in 2017. He slashed .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI and he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career. Perhaps above all else, he proved that he is capable of hitting away from Coors Field in Colorado, where he spent the first three seasons of his big league career.
The lefty has a skill set that the Orioles clearly value. His batting line is pretty similar to that of Adam Jones (.285/.322/.466, 26 home runs, 73 RBI). And it wouldn’t be too difficult to draw comparisons of Dickerson to Trey Mancini or even Mark Trumbo. Baltimore likes guys that hit for above-average power yet have mediocre on-base skills. Add a dash of fielding ineptitude and you have a “Dan Duquette Special” in the making.
Seriously, the Orioles already have too many DH-types as it is. Mancini, Trumbo and Dickerson are all, technically, capable of playing the corner outfield spots, but it’s not advised. The entire trio lacks the athleticism needed to reach balls in the corners and none of them have especially good throwing arms. Unless Baltimore would be able to make a trade with one of the lead-footed sluggers already on the roster, adding Dickerson would be exacerbating an already troubled area of the team.
What’s out there?
At this point, Dickerson is a better version of his former Colorado teammate Carlos Gonzalez. Back in the day, CarGo was challenging for MVP Awards. As a 32-year-old, those days seem to be behind him. He hit just .262/.339/.423 with 14 home runs and 57 RBI in 136 games last season. That was while he had great numbers at Coors (.323/.403/.520). There are legitimate concerns that a move to another team and new home ballpark would totally sap Gonzalez of his once other-worldly powers.
If on-base ability is what Buck Showalter and company desire, then Jon Jay is a great option. He boasts a career .355 on-base percentage and he is coming off of a career-best season in that respect with a .374 OBP over 141 games with the Cubs in 2017. He is capable of playing all three outfield spots, but left field is his best position.
Knowing Duquette, he could be willing to take a flier on someone like Melky Cabrera or Andre Ethier. Michael Saunders was good, like, three years ago. Or they could just re-sign Chris Dickerson (no relation to Corey) to a minor league deal for no real reason.
There are tons of options on left-handed hitting outfielders. It’s just that very few of them would excite anyone outside of the Warehouse.
Dyson or bust
However, the ideal left-handed hitting outfielder on the market has been the same man all offseason. Jarrod Dyson is exactly what the Orioles need. No, he is not really a top-of-the order hitter, but he brings speed, athleticism and an actual ability to play center field.
As Jones gets older, it’s natural that he needs a day or two on the bench or as the DH every so often. Even if Austin Hays makes the team, he’s not really a center fielder. Joey Rickard tries his darnedest, but he is better suited for the corners as well. Dyson played 771.2 innings at the position in 2017. For his time, Fangraphs gave him a 5.4 UZR, with 5.2 of that coming from his arm alone. He can be the guy that spells Jones in center while giving the pitching staff just as much, if not more, confidence in the defense behind them.
The hole in Dyson’s game would appear to be at the plate. He slashed .251/.324/.350 with five home runs and 30 RBI. It was the worst offensive season of his career, and as a guy that will turn 34 years old in August, it’s unlikely that his skills are going to improve.
But, there is some hope. Last year was the first he played with the Mariners. Safeco Field is not the most hitter friendly park, and the AL West is full of tough places for opposing offenses. At the same time, Dyson posted a 33.9 percent fly ball rate, the highest of his career. Predictably, this resulted in only a .285 batting average on balls in play compared to his .308 career number. For him, the tweaks seem to be clear. Take the Willie Mays Hayes approach and work on putting the ball on the ground.
A move to the AL East could do him a world of good. Camden Yards, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Rogers Centre are all hitter’s havens. Heck, the Rays have even made Tropicana Field fun to hit in over the last couple of years. Maybe some of those fly outs last year turn into doubles off the Green Monster this year.
Just, try to ignore his comments from the 2014 ALCS.
Dickerson is a fine player. He’s better than a few of the players already on the Orioles roster, and signing him would probably make the team a touch better. But Baltimore needs more than just another slugger that will do little with the leather to support what would seem to be a suspect pitching staff. Unless a trade involving Trumbo materializes (HA!), then the O’s should steer clear of Dickerson and look to lock up Dyson on a one or two-year deal.