When the Blue Jays are allowed to resume their offseason shopping, I hope they’ll strongly consider bringing back a player they acquired last summer.
Looking back on it, I still can’t believe what Ross Atkins and the front office were able to pull off when they acquired Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson from the Miami Marlins in exchange for Joe Panik and a minor league pitcher named Andrew McInvale. It was highway robbery for Cimber alone, especially for a bullpen-needy club like the Blue Jays at the time, but Dickerson was on the icing on the cake.
To be fair, Dickerson was injured at the time of the trade, and no one was sure how long he would remain on the sidelines, or if he’d return at all in 2022. Fortunately for the Blue Jays he was activated on August 3rd and ended up being a solid contributor down the stretch as the team chased a playoff spot. As a Blue Jay he slashed .282/.329/.450 over 46 games and chipped in with four home runs, six doubles, and 15 RBI, with 0.4 bWAR for his efforts.
Dickerson isn’t a superstar by any means, but I know that I’m not alone in thinking that he fit well in Toronto last year. His left-handed bat was a nice addition to the lower half that helped to bring some balance to the lineup, and having an extra outfielder was important while George Springer continued to work his way back from injury.
In theory the Blue Jays still have four outfielders on the MLB roster in Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Randal Grichuk, but I’m not sure if that’s the same group they’ll enter Spring Training with. I could easily be wrong about this, but I’ve believed for a while that the Jays will find a trade to move on from Grichuk at some point this winter. He had all but fallen out of the rotation late last year, and barring another injury for someone like Springer, he doesn’t seem to figure into their plans much more than as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Having depth will be important, but I don’t know that this is the right kind of situation for Grichuk, or for the Blue Jays. All four of their current outfielders are right-handed hitters, so there’s no platoon situation to find him playing time with. There’s also the fact that Grichuk will be fairly well paid at a 10.33 AAV over the next two seasons according to spotrac.com (9.33 million + 1 million in signing bonus), and with all due respect to the 30 year old, that money could be of better use in another area of the roster.
Having said all that, there could still be regular playing time for a fourth outfielder on this team, at least as the roster is currently constructed. They don’t have an obvious candidate as the designated hitter, and while Alejandro Kirk could end up receiving plenty of at-bats in that role, I think it’s more likely that the Jays will continue to cycle players through the DH spot to give them a half day of rest. That will be important for players like Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and more, and was an important tool to keep their bats in the lineup last season.
That’s also part of why I feel like Dickerson is such a good fit with the Blue Jays going forward. He’s the type of player that is good enough that he could play every day, but it doesn’t feel like he would have to in order to be satisfied. Having him on the roster could allow Charlie Montoyo to use Gurriel Jr. and Hernandez as the DH on occasion, giving them improved outfield defence as well. Dickerson made 9.5 million last season, and I think there’s a good chance he could be signed for the same or even less. If I’m right about that, then I’m a big fan of the skillset that he brings to the table for that kind of rate, even on a two-year deal.
We’ll see how Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays plan to approach what’s left of the offseason, at least whenever they’re allowed to pursue upgrades again once a new CBA is in place. There are a lot of variables involved, and a lot of moving parts, but I’d be more than pleased to see the return of Corey Dickerson next season if they can find a way to get it done.