The Nationals and GM Mike Rizzo are staying active this New Year, as they have signed Veteran Outfielder Corey Dickerson to a one year deal, per Jon Heyman of the NY Post. Heyman also confirms the deal is in fact an MLB deal, which leads us to believe Dickerson is a part of this team’s plan for 2023. Mark Feinsand, of MLB.com, went on to break the contract details, reporting the pact is for $2.25 Million with incentives up to $3 Million.
Dickerson has become quite the journeyman at this point in his career, and really most of his MLB career, as the Nationals become his 8th different team in the past 8 seasons. Generally Dickerson has performed well, as he has a career .281 Batting Average and a .805 OPS (114 OPS+), which is very respectable. He spent last season with the St. Louis Cardinals, appearing in 96 Games with a .267/.300/.399 slash line and a .698 OPS and 6 Home Runs.
The reality now is that Corey Dickerson will likely start for the Nationals. We have been playing chess a bit over the past week or so since the Dominic Smith signing to see what the Nationals’ Open Day lineup would look like, but the Dickerson signing makes it much more clear. We can expect an Outfield lineup of Lane Thomas, Victor Robles and Corey Dickerson, with Joey Meneses and Dominic Smith platooning between First Base and DH.
Signing Dickerson isn’t a bad move by any means, but I don’t think it was the best move either. While he has garnered interest in recent trade deadlines, he is now entering his age 34 season and his production dropped significantly last season. His best days are behind him and without any home run power, which he has not displayed in any capacity since 2017, it would be hard to get anything of value in return if you were to trade him. So is he just going to take up a roster spot and block young guys? No, but yes. I don’t think his production will be good enough to warrant giving him reps over someone like Stone Garrett who has better upside, but it won’t be poor enough to release him. But it also won’t be good enough to trade him either. A real catch 22.
Maybe the Nationals are hoping to get the 2021 version of Corey Dickerson in which he hit .282/.329/.450 for the Toronto Blue Jays after being traded by Miami at the deadline. If he gets anywhere close to that career .805 OPS mark, I will happily eat my words and issue a formal apology. But the Nationals desperately need power in their lineup, and even that version of Dickerson does not provide it.
I do have to credit Mike Rizzo. He was clearly given a very, very tight budget this offseason and he is making moves happen. I just hope they don’t lose sight that the young guys are the priority. You know what you’re going to get with a guy like Dickerson, but someone like Stone Garrett deserves as shot as well. Invest and support the young guys, and I will be fine with whatever other moves they make.