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Pirates

Pirates' Corey Dickerson optimistic entering 'contract year'

Chris Adamski
| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, 9:18 a.m.
Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson grounds out during the first inning against the Cubs Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Corey Dickerson grounds out during the first inning against the Cubs Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, at PNC Park.

During this month last year, Corey Dickerson was joining his third team over a span of 37 months. As he enters his final season before hitting free agency, it’s very possible – likely, even – that Dickerson will be on a fourth team in five years by this point next year.

Speaking at PIratesFest late last month, Dickerson joked that fourth team could come even sooner.

“You never know,” the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder said. “(A trade) happened later (in the winter) than this (in 2018).”

Though in his industry there’s truth in what Dickerson said, it was an apparent attempt at dry humor. Weeks removed from agreeing to a $8.5 million contract for the coming season, Dickerson seems genuinely content playing in Pittsburgh.

“It’s been great,” Dickerson said. “I live day by day – enjoy my kids, my family and the way I work. I love to train, I love what I do; I have a purpose in what I do. I live day by day, I don’t look to the future.”

Dickerson might not – but rest assured Pirates management does. And general manager Neal Huntington & Co. surely have a preliminary plan for their left field position in 2020 and beyond.

Do those plans include Dickerson? History would suggest they do not. The Pirates aren’t wont to sign 30-something players (Dickerson turns 30 in May) to multi-year deals, and Dickerson and his agent surely will pursue one of those after he won his first Gold Glove last season following a season in which he was an American League All-star for Tampa Bay.

After the July trade of Austin Meadows, though, the Pirates don’t have an obvious ready-made replacement for Dickerson in their organization. So, there’s no guarantee that Dickerson won’t be back after this season.

Dickerson had arguably his best major-league season last year after joining the Pirates, posting a career-best Wins Above Replacement (3.8), his best batting average (.300) and on-base percentage (.330) since 2015 and best OPS+ (an all-encompassing advanced metric) since 2014. The sabermetric numbers also supported the Gold Glove award he won for his play in left field.

Dickerson quickly became a fan favorite, and he fit in well in the clubhouse. But in the cold world of player valuation, precedent suggests that won’t necessarily mean much when it comes to time for the Pirates to consider a long-term deal. That means odds are that Dickerson’s second season in Pittsburgh will be his last one.

Of his level of optimism about 2019, Dickerson said, “It’s always high.”

“I have personal goals, (and) I work really hard at what I want to accomplish,” Dickerson said. “And you expect the same thing out of your teammates. We are all talented individuals and have played at a really high level. We all know, professionally, how to go about things the right ways, and if we put it all together a lot of good things are going to happen.”

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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