Corey Dickerson DFA’d, Could the Mariners be a Fit?

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Corey Dickerson
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Corey Dickerson /

The Tampa Bay Rays had a very busy Saturday. They acquired C.J. Cron, traded Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, and to everybody’s surprised, designated Corey Dickerson for assignment.

The designation of Corey Dickerson was shocking to most. The Rays are in sell mode, and are trying to shed as much payroll as possible. Dickerson is scheduled to make $6 million in 2017, and still has 2 years of club control remaining. Could the Mariners make a move?

So on surface, Dickerson is an odd candidate for the DFA label. Dickerson is not an All-Star, and is better suited to be a DH.  However, Dickerson is still a useful player, and could help the Mariners in 2018.

After a rough 2016, Dickerson bounced back in 2017. He slashed .282/.325/.490 in 629 PA. He slugged 27 home runs, and posted a 115 wRC+. Dickerson doesn’t walk much, but also has an average K rate.

In all actuality, Dickerson is really a left-handed version of Ryon Healy, minus the heavy platoon split. Dickerson hits both righties and lefties fairly equally. In 2017, he slashed .273/.320/.493 against RHP. Against LHP, he slashed .308/.339/.481.

Dickerson has a reputation as a bad fielder, but the metrics disagree. While acknowledging that metrics aren’t perfect, Dickerson posted a 2.6 UZR, a 4.5 UZR/150, and a -0.1 DRS (0 is average in all 3 categories). All of this in 753 innings in left field.

So no, I don’t think Dickerson is a gold glove defender, but he does appear to be a competent fielder in left. The real question is, is he better than Ben Gamel? Decide for yourself.

Player A: .282/.325/.490, 27 HR, 33 2B, 115 wRC+, 5.6 % BB, 24.2% K, 4.5 UZR/150, 2.6 fWAR

Player B:  .275/.322/.413, 11 HR, 27 2B, 99 wRC+, 6.5% BB, 22.2% K, -1.8 UZR/150, 1.6 fWAR

Ok, you picked player A right? Obviously, Corey Dickerson had a better year than Ben Gamel in 2017. Does that mean it will happen in 2018? No. Could you argue that Dickerson isn’t $5 million better than Gamel? Absolutely.

In fact, Gamel might be the better player from today going forward. He is 3 years younger, and did carry a Major League offense for 6 weeks. But the Mariners window of contention slams shut after 2018. So why not take your best run at it now? Dickerson might only be worth 1 or 2 more wins than Gamel, but 1 or 2 wins can be the difference between a wild card and the 16th pick in the draft.

Dickerson is young, controllable, and a solid, proven Major League bat. If the Mariners fall out of contention in July, he can probably return the value you gave up to acquire him. If the team believes a future is possible in Seattle, he could slide into the DH role after the team loses Nelson Cruz via trade or free agency.

A lot of respected analyst don’t want Dickerson in Seattle. I respect the opinion of these people, but disagree strongly. Of course I’d rather they spend that money on a pitcher. But we just saw Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas sign reasonable contract, and Jake Odorizzi go for a price Dipoto could have easily beaten.

Next: Better Fit for Seattle: Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn?

In the end, we just want the Mariners to be better. If not on the pitching staff, perhaps by out-slugging their competitors. Dickerson to the Mariners makes sense at the right cost. It also makes them a better club than they are today.