McKenzie needs to be back in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform in 2020 and beyond!
McKenzie Corey Dickerson, better known to us as simply Corey, was acquired by Matt Klentak at the trade deadline and has been nothing short of superb since joining the Phillies. He has helped spark an inconsistent offense, and also carried it at times over the past month and a half. He hit two home runs in the Phillies’ 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.
In fact, since Aug 1, Dickerson, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto have accounted for roughly half of the Phillies’ RBI and almost 60 percent of the team’s home runs. Dickerson also ranks in the top five in all of baseball in RBI during that same time frame.
He also won a Gold Glove as recently as last season and has played near-flawless defense since becoming the Phillies regular left-fielder. Dickerson was an All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017, too.
There is one big problem; he is a free agent at the end of this season.
So what can the Phillies do? It seems obvious, but they have a log jam in the outfield coming into 2020.
Andrew McCutchen will be back close to the start of next season and it would not be overly shocking if Odubel Herrera (I know…) is with the club in Spring Training after his suspension is lifted, even if he ultimately does not “make the team.” Adam Haseley has played well and Scott Kingery continues to be plugged in all over the diamond.
Bryce Harper is locked into right field until the DH is introduced to the National League or he turns 39, whichever comes first. Let’s also not forget about Jay Bruce as an OF/1B option off the bench or in case of injury.
Dickerson has only started 23 games in his career in center field, totaling 202 innings, the last of which came in 2015. McCutchen, 33 to open next season, played 139 games in center for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017, but do the Phillies feel comfortable putting him back in that role full time, especially coming off a torn ACL?
Dickerson’s bat may prove too valuable to let go. In his 33 games as a member of the Phillies, he has hit .300 with eight home runs and 34 RBI. He does not draw many walks (only three as a Phillie), but he swings his way on base and continues to come up with clutch hits for the club. Even with Realmuto and Harper having great second halves, Dickerson is the player most want at the plate with two outs late in the game. He has averaged an RBI every 3.8 at-bats in his 134 plate appearances as a Phillie.
The Phillies could find a way to sign Dickerson to a 2-3 year contract if the team decides to non-tender incumbent second baseman Cesar Hernandez and move Kingery back to his natural position on a full time basis.
Dickerson is making $8.5 million this season and will almost certainly command a small raise, somewhere in the $10 million per year range. That is a lot of money to pay for a potential platoon player. Same goes for McCutchen, who will cost the Phillies roughly $17 million per year over the next two seasons beyond 2019.
The team could carry five outfielders next year in McCutchen, Dickerson, Harper, Haseley and Bruce with Kingery back in the infield. Maikel Franco, who has already been sent down to AAA this season, is also not a lock for the 2020 team, opening a spot for top prospect Alec Bohm, or, even though it is not his natural position, Kingery.
A potential solution could be Dickerson, McCutchen and Harper as the starting outfield in 2020 with Haseley available to give Dickerson or Cutch a day off, shifting McCutchen back to left when Dickerson gets a break. Bruce is strictly a bat off the bench unless an injury occurs.
Regardless of how he does it, Klentak, who should be applauded for finding a gem in Dickerson for next to nothing in return, needs to bring him back on a multi-year contract.
Do not let him go.