Turns out, the Andrew McCutchen trade was less of a one-sided swap and more of a three-way deal to replace his power at the plate and starting spot in the Pirates outfield.
If the return from the San Francisco Giants for Cutch was less than expected, consider the arrival of reliever Kyle Crick allowed the Pirates to send setup man Daniel Hudson, a minor-leaguer and $1 million to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday for Corey Dickerson.
If you wondered how the Pirates would replace McCutchen's power (.279 batting average, 28 home runs, 88 RBIs), consider that Dickerson's numbers are almost identical (.282, 27, 70) — at $8.8 million less.
The Pirates certainly appear somewhat smarter today than they did Jan. 15, at least in terms of payroll and production. But there is a price to pay for trading away the face of your franchise and ripping out the heart and soul of your team.
Trading for Dickerson was a positive sign, the kind of aggressive move players wanted the Pirates to make last July when in NL Central contention.
Dickerson not only is signed for $5.95 million this season but has another year of arbitration eligibility. That makes him both affordable and controllable, which makes him a perfect fit for the Pirates.
The very players who criticized the club and questioned its commitment to winning, David Freese and Josh Harrison, applauded the front office for dealing for Dickerson despite losing a buddy in Huddy.
Harrison, who publicly requested a trade after the McCutchen trade, called adding Dickerson a “nice, solid pickup” and one that “definitely makes our lineup that much deeper.”
“I'm definitely familiar with him from his time with the Rockies, seeing the BP display that he put on at Coors Field,” Harrison said. “You see what he can bring to the table, a left-handed bat and an All-Star last year so I think that speaks for itself.”
Not only does Dickerson have the potential to send bombs over the short-right field porch at PNC Park, but also the pedigree. Dickerson has hit 24 or more homers in three of his five MLB seasons.
“When I saw it, I was excited,” Freese said. “Having Corey here — he was an All-Star last year and he's got some thump — is great for this lineup. He's a proven big-leaguer, so it's a nice pickup. You look at the lineup and looking at the potential roster, it's coming together.”
That's not to suggest Freese and Harrison are changing their dissonance about disconnect in the organization, a top-to-bottom problem that isn't going to be repaired with one trade.
Pirates owner Bob Nutting tried to build a bridge by being visible and vocal at Pirate City this week. Nutting even called their criticism “correct and fair,” only to add that the players need to build a championship clubhouse and “any great culture primarily is coming from the bottom up.”
And you wonder why we call him Bottom-Line Bob.
Both Freese and Harrison made their points and are done airing their grievances. They want to win and know adding Dickerson helps their cause, even if he struggled in the second half last season and was DFA'd by the Rays.
“I think (general manager ) Neal (Huntington) is trying to do the best he can to put a product on the field that can give us a chance,” Freese said. “You're going to go get some guys who could potentially have rebound years. I think that's something they look for in this organization. If guys pan out, the club looks better.”
Maybe not better than the Pirates were with McCutchen but certainly better than they were when starting spring training without him.
Manager Clint Hurdle certainly believes Dickerson makes the Pirates better, in terms of building a stronger starting outfield and a better bench.
“He's an aggressive hitter with some barrel,” Hurdle said. “I've talked with some people in the past about him. He's that old backyard player, just grip it and rip it and go.”
It's good to see the Pirates playing backyard baseball by making an aggressive move and swinging for the fences, even if they're aiming for the short porch.