Should the Tampa Bay Rays Trade Corey Dickerson?

A recent Marc Topkin article discussed the idea of the Tampa Bay Rays trading some of their more notable names this winter. On the list was outfielder / designated hitter Corey Dickerson.

Dickerson is due another raise via the arbitration process this winter, which makes him a prime candidate to be traded by the financially conservative Rays. Early estimations detailed in Topkin’s article has Dickerson’s arbitration based salary rising to $6.4 million for next season.

Things get tricky when trying to determine what level of production to expect from Corey Dickerson in 2018. Dickerson began the season looking like a true All-Star, with a .936 OPS from April to June. This stretch included 17 home runs and 100 runs + RBI. While an elevated hit rate (BABIP) certainly helped Dickerson reach a .325 batting average during this stretch, his expected batting average of .290 would still carry water. Dickerson’s sub-par batting eye remained during this hot stretch, however he was able to overcome it by approaching an 80% contact rate.

From July to October Dickerson was a different man at the plate. The improved contact ability mentioned above cratered back to 70%, leading to a batting eye of 0.20 – far below the league average. As such Dickerson’s OBP fell from .367 during the first half of the season to .274 from July to October of 2017. Dickerson still managed to hit 10 balls into the seats during the second half and the underlying power metrics, while slightly down half-to-half, didn’t fall as much as his overall bat-to-ball ability would suggest.

Dickerson finished the season with 2.6 WAR for the Tampa Bay Rays. His lack of defensive ability hurt this number, however, his hot first half and so-so second half allowed him to still be a net-positive player for the year.

In 2016 Dickerson was worth 1.5 WAR for the Rays. If you simply take a rough average and call him a 2.0 +/- win player in 2018, there should be some surplus value in a potential Dickerson trade if the Rays decide to go that route this winter.

The question then becomes who takes over the 630 plate appearances that Dickerson received in 2017? In looking at the Ray’s Roster Resource Page, we see Mallex Smith is currently penciled in as the strong-side platoon hitter in left field. I detailed Smith in a Fantasy related article last month and came away less than impressed.

The Rays are also set to potentially lose both Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda this winter via free agency. This means the Rays will not only be looking for a first baseman, but would also need to find a DH if in fact Corey Dickerson is traded.

Because of this last fact, I don’t see the Rays trading Dickerson unless a lop-sided offer comes their way. For a good, but not great, somewhat streaky player such as Corey Dickerson, the odds of this type of offer being made to the Rays seems less than likely.

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