Free Agent Profile: Corey Dickerson

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Left handed power has been a hallmark of the Yankees organization for most of its history. But for the last couple of seasons, the team hasn’t rostered a traditional lefty slugger. As Steven put, it would be wise for the Yankees to change that for 2020. Left fielder Corey Dickerson is one free agent option who fits the bill.

Background

The Rockies drafted Dickerson twice. First in 2009 as a 29th rounder, and again in 2010 in the 8th round. After signing, Dickerson mashed his way through the minors. He hit .318/.376/.588 (150 wRC+) from 2010 through mid-2013 in the Rockies’ farm system before getting the call to the big leagues.

Dickerson spent a few seasons in Colorado and has bounced around ever since. The Rockies parted ways with him after his third season in the majors in spite of his offensive promise. Not that the Rockies ever do things as expected, but moving him to the Rays was a head scratcher. In return, they picked up Jake McGee and then-prospect Germán Márquez.

Not to be topped, the Rays also traded away Dickerson in a peculiar move just a couple seasons later. Entering spring training 2018, and coming off a strong 2017, Tampa Bay designated Dickerson for assignment. He was ultimately dealt to Pittsburgh for Daniel Hudson and prospect Tristan Gray.

The Pirates held on to Dickerson through 2018 and part of this year, before they traded him to the Phillies at the deadline. Now 30 years of age, Dickerson is a free agent for the first time.

Performance

Dickerson’s career batting line is strong: .286/.328/.504 (117 wRC+, 108 DRC+). He’s not much of a walker (5.8 percent) and strikes out at an average clip (21.3 percent), but does hit for a good deal of power (.218 ISO).

As his career numbers show, he’s never quite lived up to his promising minor league career. The closest he came was in 2014, while still with the Rockies. That year, as a 25 year-old, Dickerson batted .312/.364/.567 (140 wRC+, 2.8 fWAR) with 24 homers in 478 plate appearances. Essentially all of his numbers are career highs from that season, except for homers, which he topped with 27 as a Ray in 2017.

Like many other lefty swingers, Dickerson hits better against righties than southpaws. His .290/.333/.533 (125 wRC+) against righties bests his career line vs. lefties (.272/.310/.409, 90 wRC+). That’s actually a tolerable batting line for left-on-left matchups, but it is a bit of a drop, particularly in terms of power. But with the new minimum batters faced rules, this might not be as big of an issue for him as it was in the past.

One interesting thing is that Dickerson isn’t a dead-pull hitter. He’ll pull a fair share of grounders, but where he puts the ball in the air is anyone’s guess, as you’ll see below. He’d be sure to benefit from the short porch at Yankee Stadium, but he’s also capable of going the other way.

(Baseball Savant)

Based on his Statcast profile, Dickerson doesn’t look like someone with a bunch of untapped potential. His exit velocity numbers have been right around league average for the entirety of his career. Still, considering he’s nearly 3,000 plate appearances into his career, it’s probably reasonable to assume that he’s better than some of his expected stats indicate. He beats his xwOBA every year.

(MLB GIF Hub)

At the beginning of his career, Dickerson was a bit of a defensive liability. Whether it was DRS, UZR, FRAA, or Statcast’s Outs Above Average, it didn’t matter. All were in unison that he was no good out there. Yet, in 2018 with the Pirates, Dickerson changed the narrative. He won a Gold Glove that season, and deservedly so.

Injury History

Health is a bit of a concern for Dickerson. His 2019 season ended with a fractured left foot in early September, though he tried to play through it before the fracture was revealed. The hope is that it’ll heal and not require surgery.

This isn’t the first time Dickerson has had a problem with that foot, though. Back in 2015, Dickerson dealt with plantar fasciitis on that same foot. He had to be put on the disabled list twice that season as that injury nagged him through much of the campaign.

Other than that, Dickerson’s had a couple of other injuries pop up in his career, but nothing alarming for the long-term. He missed some time with a shoulder strain earlier in 2019 and also strained his hamstring in the summer of 2018. Further back, Dickerson suffered a non-displaced rib fracture in 2015.

Contract Estimates

There’s nothing from Fangraphs or Jim Bowden. However, we do have MLB Trade Rumors, which predicted 2 years, $15 million. Personally, I think he’ll have to settle for a one year contract given the cool free agent environment and his heath.

Does he make sense for the Yankees?

Yes, definitely. He can provide left-handed pop in the Bombers lineup, and actually appears to be a solid left fielder to boot. He could probably find himself in some sort of left field and designated hitter platoon in pinstripes, which would provide him plenty of opportunities.

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4 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    I like the bat against righties, but I don’t see an easy fit here. He’s also likely back to being a defensive liability in the OF, and taking over LF at Yankee Stadium in his age-31 season doesn’t look to help. We know the Yankees value strong defense in LF, and the OF overall now, with Judge, Hicks and Gardner being their preferred defensive unit. Stanton is actually a decent OFer in right, and probably can be passable in LF with continuing reps, but even he’s going to be slotted for at least 80 games at DH. I don’t see anyway to fit Dickerson, unless they let Gardner leave, and if they do that, they lose a ton of defense in LF, and their starting CFer until Hicks returns two to three months in. Might as well go with Gardner/Tauchman who can provide a solid defense and base running too.

  2. Scully

    With Tauchman already in the organization, if the FO feels Tauchman won’t turn into a pumpkin, they’ll pass on Dickerson whose got slightly more pop, significantly less plate patience, and is a lesser outfielder.

  3. With everyone proclaiming they wanted more “hitters like DJLM” I did a preliminary scan of FA left handers with pop that rank near the high end in oppo% and Dickerson was one of those fits. He’s not going to be DJLM because no matter how hard we clamor for more “hitters like DJLM” the truth is there are only a few like him in today’s game.

    With all the success of taking unheralded bats and tinkering to get bigger performance out of them it’s easy to assume the Yanks could take a Dickerson level hitter and improve him a bit, making him a well above average hitter. Even if they can’t he’s not a lefty that will hit .230 because of shifting in an already small right side at Yankee Stadium, he will go the other way.

  4. DJ Lemeddardhieu

    I wouldn’t mind him, Derek. Corey Dickeddardson has a nice ring to it but I just think we have enough swing and miss pop and need more contact hitters. Find me a guy that hits .320, has an OBP of over .400, a K rate of under 20%, can play gold glove caliber defense and will sign for $12 million a year and write a profile on that guy. I think we have enough outfielders even if we trade Bozo the Clint. Gardy will be re-signed. Tauchman has done more than enough to prove he belongs here. Wade can play out there in a pinch. Andujar should be working with Reggie out there in case Stanton needs another season off.

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