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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.