Cimber, Dickerson to Toronto in Miami swap

June 29th, 2021

The Blue Jays got an early jump on the Trade Deadline on Tuesday, completing a deal to acquire reliever Adam Cimber, outfielder Corey Dickerson and cash from the Marlins in exchange for veteran infielder Joe Panik and Minor League right-hander Andrew McInvale.

The injured Dickerson (bruised left foot) heads to Toronto's 10-day IL, and to make room on their 40-man roster, the Blue Jays designated left-hander Travis Bergen for assignment.

Toronto’s bullpen has been a glaring issue at times in 2021, and while Cimber is unlikely to be the club’s final addition, the right-hander should immediately help to stabilize a group that’s been hit hard by injuries. The 30-year-old has posted a 2.88 ERA over 34 1/3 innings this season, striking out 21, and could join the Blue Jays as early as Wednesday.

There’s nothing traditional about Cimber’s approach, with a low sidearm delivery and a fastball that averages just 86.9 mph. What he lacks in strikeouts, though, he makes up for with control and weak contact, especially on the ground. Over his career, Cimber has held right-handed batters to a .652 OPS compared to .869 by lefties, so it’s easy to project how manager Charlie Montoyo will deploy Cimber against righty-heavy lineups like the Yankees, for example.

“He’s going to help our bullpen a lot,” Montoyo said. “What he does is gives us a different look. I’m really looking forward to adding him to the group. Just like everybody else, he’s going to get a chance to pitch in high-leverage [situations]. It’s funny because I just saw him in Miami -- the first time I’ve seen him -- and he looked pretty good. I love that different look he’s going to give us.”

Dickerson, on the other hand, injured himself while awkwardly stepping on the first-base bag earlier in June. He’s currently in a walking boot and has not been cleared to resume baseball activities, so the timeline for his return is still to be determined.

When Dickerson is healthy, the 32-year-old offers the Blue Jays a veteran bat with nine MLB seasons under his belt, hitting a career .282 with an .816 OPS. Dickerson has some pop, but will be particularly useful against right-handed pitching, which he’s hit hard throughout his career. The Toronto roster should benefit from his left-handed bat, too, as the core of Toronto’s lineup bats right-handed.

Montoyo was with Dickerson on Tampa Bay, where Dickerson put up two strong seasons in 2017 and ’18. Montoyo calls him a “gamer" and was thrilled when he heard of the possibility of adding Dickerson.

“He’s one of those guys that is always dirty because he plays the game the right way and plays hard,” Montoyo said. “It’s all about him being healthy now, so we’ll see, but I like Dickerson a lot.”

Primarily a left fielder, Dickerson’s arrival will make this outfield group a little more crowded as the Blue Jays approach the Deadline just over a month away. George Springer is back from his quad injuries and is cemented as the everyday center fielder, while Teoscar Hernández is a bat that the Blue Jays need in their lineup every day. That leaves Randal Grichuk and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to round out the group when Dickerson is eventually healthy, but between his uncertain timetable and the availability of the DH spot, that shouldn’t be too pressing of an issue.

These additions will obviously be noticed in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse, where a strong week has the club back up to 40-36. There’s still ground to be made up in the Wild Card and American League East races, but the Blue Jays are confident that they’re better than they’ve shown, especially if some weaknesses can be shored up. AL MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will leave the front-office work to the front office, but he embraces the additions.

“I welcome everyone who comes here, and I’ll try to help everyone who comes here regardless of where they’re coming from,” Guerrero said through a club translator. “If the front office thinks that they’re doing their jobs and they can come here and help us, then it’s all good. I will welcome anyone here, and I’m going to be there for them to help with anything they need from me.”

Going the other way is Panik, a veteran infielder who’s spent the past two seasons with the Blue Jays and established himself as a key piece of the clubhouse. Panik was hitting .246 with a .644 OPS this season as a reserve, and his departure clears the way for someone like Santiago Espinal to see more playing time. This could also clear the path for No. 28-ranked Blue Jays prospect Kevin Smith.

Smith broke through in 2018 with a fantastic season between Class A and Class A Advanced, but hit a wall in 2019 and then had to deal with the lost 2020 season. He’s rebounded admirably this year, though, hitting .273 with 10 home runs and a .938 OPS through his first 43 games in Triple-A. Add in Smith’s steady defense at shortstop and third base, and the 24-year-old is forcing the Blue Jays to discuss how he could be part of the roster down the stretch.

McInvale, 24, is 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA in 15 outings between High-A and Double-A this season.