The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Thursday afternoon that they have acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Daniel Hudson, infield prospect Tristan Gray and cash considerations. Dickerson was designated for assignment by the Rays earlier over the weekend.
The Pirates have been signing outfielders for their open left field spot, but you have to now assume that Dickerson will now be penciled in as the starter. The 28-year-old hit .282/.325/.490 for the Rays last year. He had 33 doubles and 27 homers, which helped earn him a spot in the All-Star game. In five seasons in the majors, he has hit 24+ homers three times. Dickerson has a career .280/.325/.509 slash line in five seasons, though he did spend his first 265 games in Colorado. He received $5.95 M in arbitration this year and has two seasons before he reaches free agency. His defense has been rated below average throughout his career, and he spent a lot of time at DH during the last two seasons, but it’s a big bat in a lineup that desperately needed more power.
Daniel Hudson is on the second year of a two-year contract and coming off of a poor season in which he had a 4.38 ERA and 4.34 FIP in 71 appearances, with a 1.46 WHIP. The Pirates have numerous bullpen pieces competing for the last few spots, so this opens up a spot for a younger pitcher. Hudson is set to make $5.5 M this year, which makes the salary part of the trade a near wash. The cash considerations part will help pay part of Hudson’s salary.
That leaves Tristan Gray as the other piece in the trade and he looked like a promising hitter this past season after being drafted in the 13th round. Gray was the best hitter on Morgantown and played solid defense at second base, while also sliding over to shortstop for added versatility. He has some solid potential in his bat from the left side with both power and average, but if there’s any position that the Pirates could give up lower level depth, it’s middle infield. He could very well end up as a solid big leaguer, though that won’t be for at least 3-4 years down the line. We had him as the 40th best prospect in our 2018 Prospect Guide.
Neal Huntington had this to say about the trade:
“Corey Dickerson adds a quality power threat to our lineup as evidenced by his 60-plus extra base hits and 20-plus home runs each of the last two seasons,” said Huntington. “Corey is a driven player who will also add a quality presence to our clubhouse.”
UPDATE 2:00 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
I’ll have more from Neal Huntington on the move later today, specifically with how Dickerson will fit in on the team. My guess is that they have a new left fielder. For now, some quick thoughts.
Dickerson is a good addition for the Pirates, simply put. It’s amazing that the Rays would part with him. He was a 2.6 WAR player last year, and making a reasonable $5.95 M. He’s shown a career trend of hitting for power, and that suck around even after he left Colorado. He’s been a 2.5 WAR player one other time in the past, and has been a 1.5 WAR player in his lower years. So there’s reason to believe that he’s going to continue to be productive, and last year wasn’t a fluke.
Dickerson also has a year of control remaining beyond the 2018 season, which means the Pirates have a starter for the next two years, or a trade chip in 2018 if Austin Meadows can emerge as a starter at some point this season.
The Pirates didn’t give up anyone they’ll miss to make this deal. They traded Daniel Hudson, who looked like a sunk cost after a bad year last year. I think that part of the deal actually upgrades their bullpen by subtraction. Rather than being tempted to try and get something from Hudson, they now have opened a spot for a younger reliever who is more promising. Hudson and Dickerson have essentially the same salary, but Dickerson is a much, much better use of the funds.
Tristan Gray is an interesting prospect. He was one of the best college guys the Pirates got in the draft last year, and we rated him as the #40 prospect in the system. But his future is at second base, and the Pirates have plenty of depth at that position, even several years down the line when Gray actually has a chance to reach the majors.
Trading from a position of depth. Unloading dead weight salary and opening up a bullpen spot for a better option. Adding a productive player to fill an obvious hole on the roster. This is a good combination of things to be happening in the same transaction.
As a side note, the Pirates are sending $1 M to the Rays as the cash considerations part of the deal. I’ve got the current payroll at around $83.5 M.