Blue Jays address need with trade for Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 13: Adam Cimber #90 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves at loanDepot park on June 13, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 13: Adam Cimber #90 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves at loanDepot park on June 13, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Blue Jays needed help in their bullpen, so GM Ross Atkins went to get it on Tuesday by trading for Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson

The trade deadline is still a month away, but Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins, with a team that has won seven of their last eight games, isn’t wasting any time making a big push toward the postseason.

The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson and right-handed relief pitcher Adam Cimber from the Miami Marlins on Tuesday in exchange for utility infielder Joe Panik and minor league pitcher Andrew McInvale, a deal first reported by the Miami Herald’s Craig Mish.

Dickerson is a veteran outfielder who’s joining his fifth team since 2017. He was an All-Star with the Rays four years ago, but with the Marlins in 2021 he’s hit just two home runs in 204 at-bats. His .699 OPS ranks 58th out of 75 outfielders with at least 200 plate appearances. He’s also hurt; Dickerson was placed on the IL on June 15 with a left foot contusion. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said last week that Dickerson will wear a walking boot for three weeks before being re-evaluated, so the Blue Jays will need to wait a while before seeing him don their uniform.

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If Dickerson eventually will become an experienced bat to plug into the outfield, then Cimber provides something the Blue Jays desperately need—a reliable relief pitcher. Cimber doesn’t fit the mold of the modern-day relief pitcher. He has a strange, submarine-like delivery. He doesn’t throw hard, with his 86.9 average fastball velocity the second-lowest among relievers this season.

What Cimber does do is get a lot of ground balls and pitch to contact. His outing against the Blue Jays six days ago in Miami shows what he does best. The first pitch he threw to Randal Grichuk was a sinker low and in that Grichuk took an awkward swing and fouled off. Cimber got Grichuk to hit a weak ground ball with a fastball on the outside corner, but Grichuk managed to beat the shift and reach on an infield single.

Cavan Biggio grounded into a forceout on a fastball. Against rookie catcher Riley Adams, Cimber threw all sinkers down in the zone before Adams hit a soft liner to second. After striking out pitcher Robbie Ray, Cimber completed another clean inning of work. He hasn’t given up a run in his last six appearances; the single by Grichuk is the only hit he’s given up in the last three weeks.

Cimber relies on deception and off-speed pitches to get batters out. His sinker is his favorite pitch to throw to right-handers, who have just two extra-base hits off it this season. Of the 87 pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings out of the bullpen this season, Cimber is one of seven who have yet to allow a home run. He has the fifth-lowest barrel percentage among pitchers with at least 100 batted balls against.

Bullpen woes were keeping Blue Jays from reaching full potential

Bullpen help was the Blue Jays’ primary concern before the trade deadline. The Blue Jays bullpen ranks 17th in the Majors with a 4.59 ERA in June; they were even worse in May, with the 18th-worst ERA. They also have the seventh-worst walk rate over the last two months. The addition of Cimber shores up the bullpen and gives the Blue Jays another reliable arm to turn to late in the game.

Getting that help means taking on the remainder of Dickerson’s $8.75 million contract and losing Panik. His departure means Santiago Espinal (batting .448 over his last 12 games) is on the roster to stay as another infielder.

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The Blue Jays had to do something to improve the bullpen, to avoid seeing any more blown leads and wasted opportunities to get into playoff contention. Atkins did it on Tuesday.