The Blue Jays have several decisions to make this offseason, and potentially bringing back Corey Dickerson could be a quietly important one.
The Jays absolutely robbed the Miami Marlins with a June swap that brought Dickerson and Adam Cimber to Toronto in exchange for Joe Panik and minor league pitcher Andrew McInvale. Based on Cimber’s contribution to the bullpen alone the trade was worthwhile for the Jays, but once Dickerson managed to get healthy he was a nice added bonus.
The 32 year old ended up slashing .282/.329/.450 with four home runs, six doubles, and 15 RBI over just 131 at-bats as a Blue Jay. He’s a reasonable defender in the outfield corners, although the Jays did miscast him at times as a centre fielder, and he brought another weapon to an already loaded lineup for Charlie Montoyo.
While Cimber remains under control for two more seasons, Dickerson is set to be a free agent in a few short weeks. It’s entirely possible that he could have multiple suitors, but it’s likely that his market could take a while to develop along with the other mid-tier outfield options.
Not to simplify things too much, but one of the most valuable things that Dickerson could bring to the Blue Jays is a potent left-handed bat, which is something they’re sorely lacking among the their returning regulars. Other than the possibility of Cavan Biggio returning to the starting lineup, or the days when Reese McGuire might be catching, the rest of the batting order hits from the right side. That’s not such a big deal when the lineup has as many elite right-handed hitters as it does, but balance is never a bad thing.
As I wrote about yesterday, adding another outfielder would make a lot of sense for the Blue Jays as they look ahead to next season. They do have a starting trio in place in George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but they’re far from a reliable every day group. Springer battled injuries that limited him to just 78 games in 2022, and I’m sure the Jays will plan for the occasional day off his feet to serve as the DH. As for the other two, they both showed improvement with their glove work in 2021, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another outfielder to the mix, and likely even two on a 26-man roster. Randal Grichuk remains under contract for two more seasons and could fill that role, but I fully expect the Jays to shop him over the winter and ultimately move him somewhere that he can start on a more regular basis.
For a player like Dickerson, it might come down to how much budget the Blue Jays feel they can allocate to a DH/Extra outfielder role. The veteran made 9.5 million in 2021, and while I would guess he’s likely due for a bit of a pay cut, it likely won’t be that drastic. Still, if the Jays are serious about re-signing Robbie Ray and/or Marcus Semien, or acquiring a star-level replacement, they may have to consider other alternatives. That may be especially the case since they should probably invest in the bullpen as well.
As I said, I imagine the market for a player like Dickerson will take a little while to develop, especially in light of a possible work stoppage for CBA negotiations, but the Blue Jays would be wise to keep an eye on the Mississippi native, and maybe even bring him back for another go-around. There will be other options to consider in the role, but Dickerson is one of a few that make a fair bit of sense.