Nationals sign Corey Dickerson

The Nationals and free agent outfielders Corey Dickerson have agreed to a one-year contract worth $2.25 million, tweets’s Mark Feinsand. The Excel Sports Management client can earn an additional $750,000 through incentives. The Nats Report first reported that Dickerson and the Nationals had agreed on a deal.

Dickerson, 33, will join his eighth big league team with the deal – and his third in the National League East, having previously played with both the Phillies (2019) and Marlins (2020-21). He spent his 2022 season with the Cardinals, where he hit a .267/.300/.399 slash with six home runs, 17 doubles and a triple in 297 plate appearances. That slash is at least somewhat distorted by a terrible start to the season, in which he batted .180/.237/.213 through his first 97 plate appearances; From June 1 through the end of the 2022 campaign, Dickerson logged 200 trips to the plate and put up a hefty .307/.330/.484 batting line.

In reality, Dickerson’s true level of talent probably falls somewhere between the two extremes. The 2017 All-Star and 2018 Gold Glove winner is a lifetime .281/.324/.481 hitter, but has come closer to a league average hitter since the 2020 season, hitting .266/.313/.403 in 872 rounds at the plate.

The left-handed hitting Dickerson carries a fairly sharp stroke split, with most of his power coming against right-handed pitching. Dickerson’s 25.8% strikeout rate and 4.9% walk rate against lefties are also demonstrably worse than his 18.9% and 6.1% respectively when holding the draw advantage. Overall, Dickerson has held his own in terms of batting average against lefties (.259), but has paired that with a dismal .299 percentage on base and just a .394 slugging percentage. Against right-handers, however, he shortened .287/.331/.505.

For a national team rebuild with an all-right-handed outfield of Alex call, Victor Robles and Lane Thomas, adding Dickerson to an affordable one-year contract is extremely sensible. His days as a midfielder should be behind him, but Dickerson can shed plate performances against right-handers who shed the plates of any of his new outfield mates. Robles in particular was anemic against righties in 2022, posting just .188/.238/.258 in 240 plate appearances. It’s also worth noting that Call was a 27-year-old rookie in 2022, and while his production in the upper minors (and in his 47-game MLB debut) certainly deserved promotion, he’s not exactly codified as an established everyday big league yet.

Dickerson could also see some time as a designated hitter, and the Nationals will certainly mix breakout slugger Joey Menseses — another right-hander — in 2022. Meneses could log the time on first base and spell the last signer Dominik Schmidt against lefties, and he’s an option in the outfield corners and as a designated hitter.

There should be plenty of at-bats, and given Call, Thomas and Meneses’ short track records in the big league – not to mention Robles’ continued offensive struggles, now spanning the last three seasons – Dickerson should fit in well and lift the ground for a lineup based on proven batsmen. He will also give the Nationals a potential trade chip at deadline. Dickerson alone won’t find a prominent, high-profile candidate, but he can still bring some lower-league talent to the Nats if he’s healthy and performing well.

With Dickerson in the herd, the Nationals payroll is set to rise beyond the $104 million mark. That’s a far cry from the $197 million in salary the team raked in on opening day in 2019 when it won the World Series. However, this iteration of the Nationals is more focused on building the farm and preparing for future seasons, and the front office’s rebuilding efforts are taking place in conjunction with exploring a possible sale of the team.

Be that as it may, the generally slashed payroll leaves the Nats plenty of leeway for additional spending should more deals come their way. Beyond Dickerson, Washington has so far agreed major league deals with the aforementioned Smith (one-year, $2 million), third baseman Jeimer Candelario (one year, $5 million), Swingman Erasmus Ramirez (one year, $1M) and right-handed Trevor Williams (two years, $13 million) in free agency. There’s still room for another experienced starter, and the Bullpen has a lot of uncertainty that could be offset by the addition of a more reliable name.

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