The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly checking in with free agent outfielder Corey Dickerson according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Reds rotation looks excellent but they still seek bat. They’ve been in contact with all: Castellanos, Ozuna, Dickerson, Calhoun, etc.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 17, 2019
The Reds have made some improvements this offseason already. They picked up second baseman Mike Moustakas in the largest free agent deal ever signed by the Cincinnati Reds. Last night they reportedly agreed to a 2-year deal with left-handed starter Wade Miley, including an option year.
But they aren’t done trying to improve. Outfield is one of the areas they have been focused on since the offseason began. While they have Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Phillip Ervin, Aristides Aquino, and Mark Payton to work with, they aren’t satisfied. They’ve been linked to Marcell Ozuna, Nicholas Castellanos, Kole Calhoun, and now Corey Dickerson.
It’s been a strong 3-run stretch for Corey Dickerson. Since the start of the 2017 season he’s hit .293/.330/.499 for Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. That’s good for a 121 OPS+, which for context, is better than any single season produced by Mike Moustakas in his career (his best is 119). He’s been an above-average bat for his career, and pretty consistent, too. He has missed some time along the way, including in 2019 when he only played in 78 games. But from 2016-2018 he racked up at least 533 plate appearances in each season.
Corey Dickerson has a career .286 average, which is important because he doesn’t walk much at all. His on-base percentage is highly tied to his ability to hit for an average. In the last two seasons his strikeout rate has dropped off from the previous four seasons, to a slightly better than average rate. Power is where he sticks out, with a career .218 isolated power (SLG-AVG). It’s not so much that he hits tons of home runs, but the combination of all of his extra-base hits that gives him above-average pop to work with.
Dating back to 2016 he’s only played a total of 13.2 innings somewhere other than left field. He’s pretty much a left fielder only at this point. And if you believe the defensive statistics, he’s not exactly a good one, either.
There are two projection systems out there right now that are publicly available for free. Here’s how they see Corey Dickerson performing in 2020:
Both systems seem to think he’s going to be an above-average hitter, with Marcels liking him a little bit more. Sort of. Steamer believes that he will be on the field more than Marcel does.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that it would only take a 2-year deal worth $15M to bring Corey Dickerson into the fold this offseason. Fangraphs didn’t list Dickerson among the 50 top free agents on the market, so they didn’t weigh in on a prediction for his contract. That probably tells you a little bit about the price he should be expecting to get.
Compared to at least Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos, Corey Dickerson appears to be a significantly cheaper option. It would also seemingly require a shorter commitment, too. That isn’t to say it makes more sense, or that he’s the better player or even option among the three, just that it provides a different kind of option for Cincinnati and allows them to possibly do different things.
Photo of Corey Dickerson by Ian D’Andrea. Photo has been modified. License can be found here.