So many times, the term that ‘baseball is a business’ is uttered. Sometimes that is difficult to grasp until you see if firsthand.
For Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Corey Dickerson, firsthand hit really close to home for him and his family. Now, finding himself reportedly on the trade block again by the Pirates, Dickerson was able to recount the first time he was dealt and the unbelievable circumstances.
With his wife nearing full-term pregnancy with their second child, Dickerson was Designated for Assignment in February of 2018 by the Tampa Bay Rays, just months after being voted as the American League All-Star starting designated hitter. The DFA meant that Dickerson had 10 days to be traded, released, or sent to the minors. While he was DFA’d for financial reasons, the minors were not an option, meaning he would be finding a new baseball home with an expanding family.
While on this clock for the 10 days, Dickerson’s wife Beth Anne went into labor in Mississippi. During this time period, the decision on the trio of options was determined by the Rays. Dickerson was traded to the Pirates for Daniel Hudson, Tristan Gray, and cash. The deal occurred while his wife was in labor and their son, Miller, was born three hours later.
“It was pretty crazy,” Dickerson said. “The whole week, week and a half, building up to that was pretty crazy. But living this lifestyle for 10 years now, I’ve realized that anything can happen in this game. It is great to have a really good family to remain even keel about it and to know what is best to happen will work out.”
Dickerson was correct. The trade is the best thing that could have happened to him. While he was an All-Star with the Rays, the Pirates are one of the best destinations that Dickerson could have arrived at. His .818 OPS at PNC Park in Pittsburgh is his 14th highest total at any park for his career. While that is not overwhelmingly impressive, it is six spots higher than his .738 OPS in Tropicana Field in Tampa.
What is more stunning is what Dickerson has done against the remainder of the National League Central, where he would play his next largest amount of games. While playing in Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Dickerson boasts his highest career OPS mark of 1.337 in 13 games. Wrigley Field, Miller Park, and Busch Stadium rank eight, nine, and 13 with the latter seeing .835. That means the entire division are kept awake by Dickerson and the damage he causes in their parks.
Additionally, there are only three parks within the American League East, in which the Rays play, that are featured in the top 10 for Dickerson. No other division has more than one appearance on the list.
While any team in the NL Central, including the Pirates, were an optimal ultimate destination for Dickerson, his numbers do not come close to where they sat in the hitter’s paradise of Coors Field from 2013-15. While the balls fly out in the thin air in Denver, Dickerson still sees some similarities that play well to his game.
“(The parks) are completely different in the fact that the elevation in Coors Field,” Dickerson said. “There is just a lot more room in general in the whole outfield. It is a big left field in Pittsburgh, but in Colorado, the whole outfield is huge. A lot of hits fall in, broken bat hits. In Pittsburgh, that left field reminds me of it, but balls just don’t travel the same way. Both are great, beautiful parks to play at. I have been pretty blessed to play at both.”
The spacious left field in PNC Park plays well to Dickerson’s game as well. He added 35 of his 151 hits last season to the opposite field, which is left for him.
For Dickerson, even despite the recent turmoil, he has been well received in the Pittsburgh and the comfort level is reciprocal.
“It has been wonderful ever since I came over,” Dickerson said. “I have had a great staff and teammates behind me. We have gotten along great. I feel like we are trending in the right direction last year. We did a lot of things that we were no expected to do. A lot of coaches helped me make a lot of goals obtainable. I will enjoy finishing out this year with them. It is my last year under contract as a Pittsburgh Pirate. I just look to enjoy every single day.”
Dickerson has started in just six of the last 11 games. With a challenging season thus far in 2019, that has seen him relegated to back up duty more times than not until the Pirates can trade him again, Dickerson is looking to find the best from a tough dealt hand again. All of this is despite going 8-for-24 with three doubles since returning from the Injured List on June 8.
For Dickerson, some decisions will need to be made after the season no matter where it ends, as he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Based on the numbers, it might make sense for Dickerson to stay in, or return to the division.