The Pittsburgh Pirates’ trade of Corey Dickerson to the Philadelphia Phillies scratched a .300 hitter and a Gold Glove left fielder off the roster, an odd result for a team that has lost 16 of 19 games and needs further tinkering to contend in 2020.
But Dickerson, 30, is due to become a free agent next year when he will seek a multi-year contract and a raise from his $8.5 million salary.
The Pirates have found a younger, cheaper — possibly even better — replacement in 24-year-old Bryan Reynolds, who is leading the team with a .324 batting average.
“Bryan has given us street cred and field cred,” manager Clint Hurdle told AT&T SportsNet on Wednesday after the Pirates’ 4-1 loss in Cincinnati.
But Dickerson was second to Reynolds in batting average (.315) after hitting two homers and driving in five runs Tuesday night. Shoulder and groin injuries have limited him to 127 at-bats, four homers and 25 RBIs for the season, but he is healthy now.
The return from the Phillies is a player to be named — likely someone of minimal immediate impact — and $250,000 in international bonus pool money.
“We felt like it was the opportunity to spend more money in the international market and have a lottery ticket or two,” general manager Neal Huntington said.
Huntington pointed out deleting Dickerson will give younger players such as Jose Osuna, Jason Martin and Pablo Reyes — only Osuna is on the big-league team at the moment — a chance to gain more experience and grow.
He added the trade “cleared the deck for us as we look toward 2020.”
Dickerson is the second productive outfielder the Pirates traded at the past two deadlines after they sent Austin Meadows, who turned into an American League All-Star, to the Tampa Bay Rays last year.
That leaves Reynolds, Starling Marte and, presumably, Gregory Polanco manning the outfield, left to right, next year — assuming Polanco’s shoulder woes will disappear by spring training.
Veteran Melky Cabrera, 35, who might have been attractive to a contending team as a rental player, wasn’t traded. He will be needed as a starting outfielder while Polanco rehabs his shoulder.
Hurdle recognized the contributions made by Dickerson, who was designated for assignment by the Rays last year before the Pirates traded for him just before spring training.
Hurdle said old friend Walt Weiss, who managed Dickerson in Colorado, told him, “You’re going to love this guy.”
“I told Corey, ‘Walt told me I was going to love you. Now that the time has been spent, I love you.’ ”
The Pirates traded Dickerson to the Phillies, who are seeking outfield help after losing Andrew McCutchen to a knee injury June 3.
Huntington didn’t have much to offer in trades but was reluctant to part with closer Felipe Vazquez, who was coveted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The teams talked, but the Dodgers were unwilling to meet the Pirates’ demands of their top prospects.
“We are working to build a quality foundation for next year,” Huntington said. “We are going to work to be a postseason club (in 2020). A player the caliber of Felipe Vazquez is incredibly helpful to do that.”
Huntington all but conceded this season is a lost cause after the last-place Pirates fell 11 games behind in the National League Central with the second-worst record (47-61) in the league.
“We’ve dug ourselves quite a hole for this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dickerson is thrust into a playoff chase but leaves with strong feelings for his former teammates.
“Little bit surprised,” Dickerson told AT&T SportsNet. “You start thinking about family, but the first thing I think about is my teammates. We battled together, the ups and down.
“This game is tough. This game will weigh on you very heavily, and to be there for the guys and they be there for me, it’s tough anytime you get traded.”