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Bucs deal Dickerson to Phillies at Deadline

Pittsburgh receives PTBNL and international bonus pool money in exchange
@adamdberry
July 31, 2019

CINCINNATI -- When the Pirates traded for Corey Dickerson 17 months ago, former Rockies manager Walt Weiss called Clint Hurdle with a simple review: “You’re going to love this guy.” Hurdle told Dickerson that story on Wednesday afternoon, not long after the Pirates’ starting left fielder learned that he had

CINCINNATI -- When the Pirates traded for Corey Dickerson 17 months ago, former Rockies manager Walt Weiss called Clint Hurdle with a simple review: “You’re going to love this guy.”

Hurdle told Dickerson that story on Wednesday afternoon, not long after the Pirates’ starting left fielder learned that he had been dealt to the Phillies.

“Walt told me that I was going to love you,” Hurdle said. “And now that the time’s been spent, I love you.”

In return, Pittsburgh received a player to be named later and $250,000 of additional space in its 2019-20 international signing bonus pool while creating additional playing time for younger outfielders. That didn’t mean it was easy for the team to say goodbye to Dickerson.

“He’s a good player on the field, and he’s a good man off the field,” Hurdle said.

Trading Dickerson was the Pirates’ only move in the final hours leading up to the Trade Deadline. On Monday, they sent Jordan Lyles to the Brewers for relief prospect Cody Ponce. Otherwise, the Bucs had a quiet deadline. They didn’t buy, and they didn’t really sell a whole lot, either.

The Pirates acquired Dickerson during Spring Training last year to help fill the void in their outfield created by the trade that sent Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco. (Oddly enough, Dickerson will now essentially replace McCutchen for the second time in as many years, as McCutchen’s season-ending injury created a need in the Phillies’ outfield.) Dickerson delivered above and beyond what Pittsburgh hoped for after he was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay, batting .300 with an .804 OPS and winning his first Gold Glove Award last season.

“I’m just blessed to be playing this game, for the opportunity that [general manager Neal Huntington] and Clint gave me to play every day last year, the opportunity to establish myself a little bit more in the field,” Dickerson said. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to play anywhere. To play for [Pittsburgh], it’s been fun. I enjoyed the city, enjoyed everything that the fan base brought – my teammates, the staff, the staff’s been unbelievable. I just really enjoyed it here.”

But the 30-year-old Dickerson’s time was drawing to a close either way, as he’ll be a free agent after earning $8.5 million this season -- about $2.7 million of which will now be paid by the Phillies. The Pirates, well out of the National League postseason race, will head into next season with a likely starting outfield of Bryan Reynolds, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.

Reynolds’ performance as a rookie this season essentially solidified his standing as a future everyday player in Pittsburgh’s eyes. The switch-hitting outfielder, acquired in the McCutchen trade, is slashing .324/.396/.503 with nine homers and 44 RBIs in 85 games.

“Bryan’s given us enough street cred and field cred, performance in the box, the ability to play all three outfield positions, to go ahead and give him that opportunity,” Hurdle said. “He’s earned it.”

The Pirates hope to get the injured Polanco back within the next month, which will allow them to preview their 2020 outfield on a regular basis down the stretch. Until then, they intend to give more playing time to hot-hitting Jose Osuna, super-utility man Pablo Reyes and outfield prospect Jason Martin. Veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, also on an expiring contract, will factor into the mix during the final two months of the season as well.

“It gives an opportunity for our young players to capitalize on those at-bats, to capitalize on that playing time,” Huntington said. “We thought it was an opportunity to give young players a chance to play, add some additional prospects via the international market and a player to be named and continue to push opportunities forward.”

Dickerson missed time earlier this season with a shoulder injury and recently sat out three games due to a minor groin injury. But he made an immediate impact in his return to the lineup Tuesday night, hitting two home runs and driving in a career-high five runs in the Pirates’ 11-4 win over the Reds.

Dickerson grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the Pirates’ loss to the Reds on Wednesday afternoon. While he was standing in the dugout, starter Joe Musgrove approached Dickerson, hugged him and said something along the lines of, “See you later, man.”

“I thought he was joking. He told me the Phillies got me,” Dickerson said. “I came in [the clubhouse] and talked to Neal and talked to the Phillies GM a little bit ago. It catches you off-guard a little bit, but it is what it is.”

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.