Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays acquire Corey Dickerson from Rockies for Jake McGee

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ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays found the left-handed power bat they were seeking in acquiring Corey Dickerson from the Rockies on Thursday. But they were left with a hole in their bullpen after giving up Jake McGee and a major question, at least for now, of how their restructured lineup will fit together.

McGee, who was likely to be traded sometime during or after this season, and right-handed pitching prospect German Marquez were swapped for Dickerson and 19-year-old third-base prospect Kevin Padlo.

The Rays also made official the signing of first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, who got $4.75 million on a one-year deal. (Because Marquez was on the 40-man roster, the Rays didn't have to make another move.)

The deals give the Rays a glut of outfield/DH/first-base candidates, but baseball operations president Matt Silverman said the upgrade to a more dynamic, powerful and "intimidating" offense and the additional depth/injury protection were valuable given their past struggles.

"It's hard to predict how it's going to actually turn out," Silverman said late Thursday, "but having this group gives us a lot of confidence that we're going to score the runs that we need to this year."

In Dickerson, the Rays get a 26-year-old left-handed slugger with 30-homer potential who is four years from free agency. He is coming off an injury shortened 2015 season (plantar fasciitis, broken ribs) in which he hit .304 with an .869 on-base plus slugging percentage in 65 games. In 2014, his first full season in the majors, he hit .312 with a 24 homers, 76 RBIs and a .931 OPS.

"Dickerson is an established major-league hitter," Silverman said. "He has great bat-to-ball skills, he's got power and he can be a middle-of-the-lineup bat for us. … He's the kind of player that can step in and make an immediate impact and also be a part of our longer-term future. … A hitter like him is someone that is oftentimes hard to come by, and we felt like it was too much to pass up in this case."

But, like with other players who spend half their time playing in the Denver altitude, there are questions about how Dickerson will perform elsewhere, given a staggering split between his OPS of 1.085 at home and .685 on the road.

"We've done our homework, and we believe in the skill set that Corey has and that it will translate to our ballpark and really play in any ballpark in the whole league," Silverman said.

Dickerson said he was "shocked" to be traded but "definitely overwhelmed with excitement" to join what he said looks to be a "very good" Rays team.

He joins projected starters Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. and backup Brandon Guyer in a crowded outfield. Pearce joins also-added Logan Morrison and incumbent James Loney at first base, with the DH spot also open.

Silverman acknowledged that if all stay healthy, "we probably have one too many" and said trade talks remain "active." But he also said the Rays plan to take the current group to camp and see how it works out, knowing there are usually issues and they have extraordinary depth. If all are healthy, Loney seems most likely to go, and perhaps Jennings, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

McGee, 29, had heard enough rumors that he expected to be traded but assumed since a deal hadn't happened by now, he would at least start the season with the Rays. "It was kind of a shock to us, but we knew it was part of the business and it was probably going to happen eventually," McGee said.

Having been in the organization since 2004, the hard-throwing lefty said "it will be sad to leave the Rays because I've made so many friends. … I was really fortunate to be here this long."

In saving McGee's $4.8 million salary (which evens out the addition of Pearce), Silverman admitted there was now "a big hole" in the pen, leaving Brad Boxberger as the primary closer and no clear option for the eighth-inning role.

Noting McGee's reliability, Silverman said the move "requires a couple of guys stepping up," mentioning righties Alex Colome, Steve Geltz and Danny Farquhar plus lefties Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero.

Marquez, 20, was added to the 40-man roster in November after going 7-13 with a 3.56 ERA for advanced Class A Charlotte. Padlo, 19, is a 2014 fifth-round pick who split his first full pro season between short season Boise and low Class A Asheville, hitting .257 with 11 homers, 53 RBIs and an .819 OPS.

Pearce, a 32-year-old Lakeland native, is also coming off an injury-shortened 2015 season (.218, 15 homers, 40 RBIs, .711 OPS) after a strong 2014, when he hit .293 with 21 homers, 49 RBIs and a .930 OPS.

Around the majors

ASTROS ADD STARTER: Right-hander Doug Fister was impressed by what he perceived as Houston's will to win.

"The choice to come here is driven from the top down," Fister said after agreeing to a $7 million, one-year contract. "We're trying to win a World Series here, and that's your ultimate goal. That's why you come to the ballpark every day."

Fister, 31, was 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 15 starts and 10 relief appearances last season for the Nationals.

ELSEWHERE: Minor-league outfielder Rymer Liriano, a former top prospect in the Padres organization, was traded to the Brewers for minor-league left-handed reliever Trevor Seidenberger. … Indians outfielder Michael Brantley is targeting opening day to return from offseason shoulder surgery. Brantley had an operation to repair a small tear on his non-throwing shoulder in November. … Right-hander Ivan Nova and the Yankees agreed to a $4.1 million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

OBITUARY: Walt Williams, an outfielder who played for four teams in the 1960s and '70s and was best known for his nickname "No Neck," died Saturday of a heart attack in Abilene, Texas. He was 72.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

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