The Braves announced Wednesday that they’ve signed free-agent outfielder Alex Dickerson to a non-guaranteed Major League deal that comes with a $1MM base salary. Dickerson, a client of Moye Sports Associates, will be placed on the 40-man roster for now and report to Major League Spring Training.
After playing 95 games with the Padres over 2015 and 2016, a few injuries cost him two whole seasons, with a bulging disk and a torn UCL preventing him from playing at all in 2017 or 2018. Dickerson was able to have a nice comeback season in 2019, however, splitting his time between the Padres and Giants. He got into 68 games, making 190 plate appearances, hitting .276/.332/.489, wRC+ of 112.
2020 was a tremendous breakout for the outfielder, as he hit 10 home runs in the pandemic-shortened season, finishing the campaign with a line of .298/.371/.576, wRC+ of 151. Unfortunately, injuries struck yet again in 2021, limiting him to 111 games and a line of .233/.304/.420, wRC+ of 97. The Giants designated him for assignment in November to make room on the roster for Anthony DeSclafani.
For Atlanta, this is a low-risk gamble on a player who has shown flashes of brilliance when healthy. The $1MM is barely above the league minimum salary, which is now $700K in the new CBA. It’s also not guaranteed, meaning that the club wouldn’t be on the hook if Dickerson’s past injury issues linger into this year. As it’s a non-guaranteed deal, Dickerson would earn a lesser rate if he’s in the minors instead of with the big league team. He could theoretically reject an optional assignment given that he has more than five years of MLB service time, but it seems likely he signed such a deal with an awareness that spending some time in Triple-A could be a possibility.
For the Braves, their incredible run to the World Series last year involved acquiring a number of outfielders that were set to reach free agency at the end of the year: Jorge Soler, Joc Pederson and Eddie Rosario. They have since re-signed Rosario, who will join Adam Duvall, Marcell Ozuna, Guillermo Heredia, Orlando Arcia, Travis Demeritte and Drew Waters in the outfield mix. Ronald Acuna Jr. is still rehabbing from his torn ACL and is hoping to return by May. That somewhat crowded picture could be helped by this year’s implementation of the designated hitter for National League teams. Dickerson’s never really earned favorable ratings for his defense, making him a good fit for some time in the DH slot, especially considering his injury history.