FanPost

Corey Dickerson for Matt Adams Plus a Pitching Prospect Not Named Reyes

I've previously argued that the Cardinals should avoid becoming spenders in this year's free agent market (post-Heypocalypse) and instead retool to be competitive in 2018 when they would have the opportunity to add a real difference maker in free agency to whatever their re-tooling efforts can produce over the next two years. With the signing of Mike Leake to an $80 million dollar deal that includes a no-trade clause, it does not appear that the Cardinals are quite ready to become sellers of any variety, and that they want to remain competitive heading into the season.

At the same time, their reluctance to spend big on remaining free agents who would obviously improve the roster signals that the Cardinals may realize, that as ESPN has recently put it, they are in a bind. As the ESPN article points out, the Cardinals have traditionally pulled themselves out of such binds by making wise, and timely trades for players just about to enter their primes. I believe that a strong case could be made that Corey Dickerson is such a player.

1. Dickerson is 26 and is under team control for the next 4 years.

2. Dickerson's minor league track record shows that the man can flat out hit

Season

Team

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

BsR

Off

Def

WAR

2010

Rockies (R)

69

308

13

54

61

12

9.1 %

16.6 %

.286

.390

.348

.412

.634

.450

164

2011

Rockies (A)

106

435

32

78

87

9

9.0 %

22.8 %

.347

.296

.282

.356

.629

.424

160

2012

Rafters (R)

17

68

1

11

11

8

1.5 %

19.1 %

.152

.434

.364

.368

.515

.396

127

2012

Rockies (A+)

60

270

9

43

43

9

9.3 %

15.6 %

.246

.373

.338

.396

.583

.413

145

2012

Rockies (AA)

67

289

13

40

38

7

6.2 %

17.6 %

.229

.293

.274

.322

.504

.361

125

2013

Rockies (AAA)

75

345

11

61

50

6

7.5 %

14.2 %

.260

.409

.371

.414

.632

.449

172

For sake of comparison, his minor league wRC+ are comparable to Mike Trout's. These minor league games, for the record, were not played in Coors field. And as is often overlooked, wRC+ is a park adjusted score.

3. He was worth 2.6 WAR over 478 at bats in 2014, his first full season in the majors

4. Dickerson started 2015 on fire, prior to losing the rest of the season to plantar fasciitis

Over the first 76 at bats of Dickerson's 2015 campaign he hit .329 with 5HRs and for a wRC+ of 152. Then he went down with plantar fasciitis, a condition that essentially cost him the rest of the season (he only had about 150 ab's mixed in the rest of the season in which he went back on the disabled list multiple times for the same injury, as well as a rib injury). While the sample size was small, all signs indicated something of a breakout performance from Dickerson until he landed on the DL. With a change of scenery and better luck regarding his health, who knows what could happen in 2016. As I see it, the only concern with Dickerson is his fielding.

Analyzing a trade for Adams + a non-Reyes Pitching Prospect

As it stands, I feel pretty comfortable that, assuming his health, he would be a 2 win player in a corner outfield rotation with Piscotty, Holliday and Moss over 400-500 at bats next season. If given the opportunity to be an every-day corner outfielder via injury, or further trades, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be a 4-5 WAR player if he is able to make marginal improvements to his defense and regain his 2014 hitting form (which does not seem to be out of the realm of possibility given his minor league stats).

Thus, it is pretty clear to me that if the question is, should the Cardinals be interested in Corey Dickerson--the answer is very clearly yes. He profiles as exactly the kind of player who could be poised to provide exceptional value in the trade market (and it is the trade market where the Cardinals have typically bolstered their lineup over their glorious run). The rub however, is that the price appears to be Matt Adams plus a pitching prospect not named Reyes. Adams himself, has a very good minor league hitting track record and could be primed for a breakout similar to the one I'm predicting for Dickerson. In fact, they are remarkably similar in that both have solid hitting backgrounds, bat from the left side, and give up a fair amount of value in the field.

I would personally be comfortable trading Dickerson for Adams plus any pitching prospect not named Reyes for the simple reason that Dickerson has already put together almost 500 ABs at the big league level (see 2014) that resembles his minor league numbers. In 2013, Adams resembled his minor league self, but only over 319 ABs. Adams' R/L splits are also more pronounced than Dickerson's and suggest that his only viability may be as part of a platoon. Dickerson has not been exceptional against lefties, but his 86 wRC+ over 478 ABs (91 ABs against lefties) in 2014 is still far better than Adams' career wRC+ of 50. There is more hope there for Dickerson against lefties. Finally, the Cardinals have Brandon Moss, who projects very similarly to Adams, and whose splits are not as pronounced. It's not clear that losing Adams would significantly harm the team in 2016. Beyond 2016, acquiring Dickerson would allow the Cardinals to truly move Piscotty to first base, or at minimum, would allow for far more positional flexibility in the 1st base and outfield rotations as you would not need to trot out Piscotty in RF or LF often with Corey Dickerson, Grichuk, and Pham in the longer term outfield fold. Additionally, Dickerson has one more year of team control (Adams will be a free agent in 2019, Dickerson in 2020). As for the pitching prospect, the Leake signing really frees the team up to trade one of Cooney, Gonzalez, or Lyons along with Adams for a guy like Dickerson without much damage to the club's overall picture. Leake essentially blocks these players for the foreseeable future, and while pitching depth is always nice, I'm not sure it's absolutely necessary to have 3 capable 6th starters.