2016 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2016 Fantasy Baseball: Corey Dickerson Traded for Jake McGee

Perhaps the most head-scratching rumor to date this offseason has been the discussion between the Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies regarding outfielder Corey Dickerson and reliever Jake McGee. The hypothetical swap has now become a reality, as the two clubs have agreed upon the trade, per Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. When the Rockies signed Gerrardo Parra a coulple of weeks ago, it seemed inevitable that they would trade an outfielder. However, many, including myself, believed that it would be Carlos Gonzalez on the move. In a shocking turn of events, the Rockies dealt the outfielder that is just over a year removed from hitting 24 home runs. The deal also included a one-for-one swap of minor league players.

Why the Rays made this deal

As is mentioned prior, this deal is a head-scratching move for both clubs. While the Rays needed Dickerson’s bat added to their lineup, one might wonder whether or not his days in the outfield are behind him. Dickerson, 27 in May, is coming off a season in which he dealt with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The injury limited Dickerson to just 65 games, though he posted solid numbers when he was on the field. However, many now doubt whether or not he can stay in the outfield long-term due to the foot injury. Not only that, defensive numbers have been down on him throughout his time in left field, with his worst season to date being this past campaign. One option could be to move Dickerson to first base, but there’s currently an overflow of players at the position. At the moment, the club looks like they’re going to run out a platoon between James Loney and the recently signed Steve Pearce.

So, maybe they won’t play him at first base, but the outfield it pretty crowded, too. Kevin Kiermaier won his first career gold glove this past season, and chances are he stays put, as his glove is way too valuable to take out of center field. Steven Souza was the key player that the Rays acquired in the Wil Myers deal, and it’s hard seeing the Rays giving up on him after just one year, even though he batted just .225 in 2015. That leaves us with Desmond Jennings, who many thought would turn into the team’s new B.J. Upton once Upton departed via free agency. That thought wasn’t too farfetched; after all, Jennings slugged 13 home runs and stole 31 bases in 2012, which was Upton’s last year in Tampa Bay. Since then, Jennings has struggled with health and consistency, as he’s reached the 20 stolen base mark in just once since 2012. This past season, Jennings was limited to 28 games due to complications in his left knee.

It’s almost hard to believe, but Jennings is now 29-years-old, and it seems as if the player we’ve seen past 2012 is the player that Jennings is. At his age, we’ve typically seen the best of a player, and now we start to see the steady decline of skills, especially speed. Speed is one of the tools that Jennings brings to the table, as the power he’s displayed in the past is almost completely sapped at this point. With the knee injury this past season, the speed could be somewhat sapped as well. It’s not presently known whether or not the Rays will make Jennings expendable, but he certainly seems like the odd man out in this situation.

There are many people who are going to bring up Dickerson’s home/away splits when discussing this trade. We shouldn’t blame them, either, as they’re actually quite alarming if you’re the acquiring team. In 400 at-bats at Coors Field, Dickerson has slugged 24 home runs, driving in 78 runs and sporting a .355/.410/675 triple-slash line. On the road, however, Dickerson’s home runs dip to 15, with 46 runs batted in, while posting a .249/.286/.410 slash line.

The Rays parting with McGee can tell you something about where they stand financially, as well. The deal saves the Rays close to $5 million, which they could presumably use on an infielder, perhaps Ian Desmond. Corey Dickerson is under contract for the next four seasons, while McGee is under contract for the next two years.

Why the Rockies made this trade

 The Rockies have made it a point this season to patch up a bullpen that ranked last in ERA in 2015. They signed both Jason Motte and Chad Qualls to two-year contracts, and this trade furthermore solidifies what their offseason plan was. However, one might wonder if they could have gotten a better haul for Dickerson. After all, Dickerson’s power plus being under control for the next four years is something that we don’t see everyday on the trade market. When healthy, McGee is one of the best relievers in all of baseball, as he’s a southpaw who can dominate both right-handed and left-handed hitters. McGee brings swing-and-miss stuff to the Rockies’ bullpen, as he’s combined for an 11.5 K/9 the past two seasons. McGee saw Brad Boxberger take his closing role in 2015 while he was rehabbing from surgery, though you can immediately slot him in as the ninth inning man in Colorado.

While it’s very apparent that the Rockies wanted a makeover of their bullpen, I don’t know if you do it by trading Dickerson. I mentioned that Dickerson could play first when he arrives in Tampa, and the very same thing could have been said about Colorado. The Rockies have a glaring hole at first base, and they could have very easily solved it by slotting Dickerson there, which would have also solved their outfield problem as well. On top of that, McGee comes with just as much health risk that the Rockies are getting rid of by trading Dickerson. McGee had elbow surgery a year ago, which is the reason why he was only limited to a little less than 40 innings in 2015. McGee tweaked his knee at the end of the season, and the affects of the injury were immediately seen. McGee, who relies primarily on his powerful fastball, saw his velocity on the pitch dip to 92 MPH late in the season. For someone who throws 95% fastballs, that could be viewed as quite worrisome.

This trade makes you wonder what ownership and the front office are really trying to do with this team. On one side of things, it’s surprising that they haven’t blown the team up yet and started “officially” rebuilding. They have a few nice pieces they could keep in place, namely Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and D.J. LeMahieu. Though a player like Carlos Gonzalez, for example, doesn’t fit on a roster that will likely be competing for last place in the NL West. CarGo is owed a lot of money, and should be moved before he hits a wall and loses all the value he regained this past season. Maybe the front office see’s it as a way to shorten the game for their starting pitchers, and having a bullpen that can hold leads from the sixth inning on.

What this author really thinks the trade is about, however, is hoping that McGee excels in Colorado, and then flip him for a nice package at the trade deadline. After the hauls that Philadelphia and San Diego got for their closers (Ken Giles and Craig Kimbrel), it wouldn’t be out of the question for Colorado to simply be taking their chances and holding out hope they can get a similar return. Plus, relievers are much more valuable at the deadline than they are in the offseason.

What this trade means for you

If you’re a Dickerson owner, chances are you’re pretty furious that he’s headed to Tampa Bay. Any time you own a stock in a Colorado player, the hope is that they stay put, rather than leave Coors Field. Plus, it stings that Dickerson is heading to the only AL East club that doesn’t have an extreme hitters park. If you’re a McGee owner, going to Coors Field is a bit scary, but the bright side is that McGee has a closing job. If he can regain his velocity next season, I see no reason why McGee can’t repeat his numbers from previous years. Hopefully at the deadline the Rockies deal him to a club that needs a closer, not a setup man.

Statistics gathered from Baseballreference.com and Fangraphs.com

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1 Comment

  1. January 29, 2016 at 7:05 pm — Reply

    Good points. I hadn’t considered Dickerson as a first base option. I can only assume they shopped all three returning outfielders and got the best offer for Dickerson. Unfortunately, it’s always hard to gauge value in Coors Field. When you consider a sub 700 OPS on the road they are lucky to get a potential upper echelon closer. I’d consider it a win for them.

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