Colorado Rockies: Looking back on the Corey Dickerson trade
It was clear that someone had to go, and that someone was Dickerson. He was coming off an injury-riddled 2015 that saw him hit the DL three times with a combination of plantar fascitis and fractured ribs. Despite only getting 234 at bats, Dickerson was still able to be a productive hitter, slashing .304/.333/.536 for an OPS+ of 106. His 2014 had been even better as he worked his way to a .312/.364/.567 line and a 141 OPS+ in 468 at bats.
Dickerson’s hitting was never the question. The real issue was could he handle the spacious outfield in Coors Field defensively. Pitching in Coors is hard enough with competent fielders and Dickerson had just posted a negative fielding WAR for the third year in a row. Parra, by comparison was a former Gold Glover that had posted a defensive WAR of 3.6 as recently as 2013. Though his ’14 and ’15 metrics weren’t as positive (and his ’16 numbers would be abysmal), Parra was still regarded as a significant upgrade in the field.
As much as good defense benefits a pitching staff, actually having good pitchers can help too – however, good pitchers tended to avoid Coors like it was a staph infection. The ghosts of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle haunted all attempts to sign top pitchers outright, so the Rockies have generally had to trade for any pitching talent that came their way.
In this sense, swapping Dickerson for McGee, a hard throwing strikeout artist that had posted four straight productive seasons, made perfect sense. McGee was coming off an excellent 2015, where he posted a 2.41 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 37.1 innings and an even better 2014 where he struck out 90 in 71.1 innings. The Rockies were trading from a place of depth to shore up one of their main weaknesses in a move that actually precipitated the bullpen revolution of the coming years.