The Pirates are interested in finding a trade partner to take outfielder Corey Dickerson, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). Dickerson, 30, is earning $8.5MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
As we discussed recently upon Dickerson’s activation, the Pirates are facing obvious roster pressures in several areas. The club is currently carrying only three starters, allowing it to pad its relief corps and accommodate an extra position player, but that’s a temporary measure.
Dickerson was just brought back from the injured list, so he’s only six games into his season. In the interim, the club lost another left-handed-hitting corner piece in Lonnie Chisenhall. But it also welcomed back Gregory Polanco, struck paydirt on a low-cost deal with switch-hitting veteran Melky Cabrera, and saw youngster Bryan Reynolds (also a switch-hitter) burst onto the scene.
Cabrera is said to be drawing interest from “multiple contenders,” per Rosenthal. He is now slashing a cool .335/.375/.462 through 185 plate appearances. He’s not a good defender and won’t sustain a .370 BABIP, but certainly seems a worthwhile target as a bench bat. Cabrera’s low-cost, low-commitment contract situation ($1.15MM salary) is surely of appeal as well.
Rosenthal says that the Bucs “want to take another stab at contention before moving Cabrera and possibly others.” That makes sense, as the club isn’t yet buried in the division with more than six weeks to go until the trade deadline. But it’s hard to square that with the idea that the Pittsburgh org prefers to ship out Dickerson, who is a younger player with a better recent track record than Cabrera. Last year, Dickerson posted a 115 wRC+ and graded as a high end defender.
All in all, it’s a bit of an odd situation for the Pirates, who scrambled for outfielders and now find themselves in dire need of pitching. There isn’t much reason to think that a contender will part with a worthwhile, immediate rotation (or even relief) piece for one of these outfielders.
Cabrera may be the more cost-efficient option for the Bucs, but they will surely be selling low on Dickerson unless he goes on a tear over the next few weeks — in which case it’d be all the harder to move him unless the team is itself out of the race. Putting Polanco on the block might create some opportunities for meaningfully addressing the pitching staff, but he has had some ups and downs and that’d be a much more consequential decision.