Why the Corey Dickerson-Jake McGee Trade Makes Little Sense for Colorado

Tampa got a talented outfielder. Colorado got a relief pitcher. And it all doesn't make sense.

It's understandable why the Tampa Bay Rays wanted Corey Dickerson. It's far less understandable why the Rockies want Jake McGee.

Folks, we saw a very weird trade go down on Thursday, one that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Yes, the Rockies had one too many outfielders after the free agent signing of Gerardo Parra this off-season. In the end, they decided to hang on to Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon and, instead, agreed to trade one of their best commodities, Dickerson, in exchange for a relief pitcher. 

Say what?

Below are Dickerson's stats from the last three seasons.

2015 65 0.304 0.333 0.536 0.371 119 10 31 0.5
2014 131 0.312 0.364 0.567 0.399 140 24 76 2.6
2013 69 0.263 0.316 0.459 0.335 95 5 17 0.6

When healthy, he has been very good. In 2013 he was a part-time player and in 2014 he stayed relatively healthy, leading the Rockies in homers, with 24. However last year, he dealt with plantar fasciitis issues and broken ribs suffered when diving for a fly ball. Those two ailments limited him to just 65 games.

Dickerson is a solid player who will immediately help a Tampa outfield that now features Kevin Kiermaier in center and Steven Souza in right. All three are solid, if not elite, defensive outfielders, and Dickerson will bring some much-needed punch to a Tampa lineup that finished 25th in runs scored last year.

He is also under team control through 2020, so this deal makes all the sense in the world for the Rays. It makes less so for the Rockies, a team destined for 90-100 losses this season. 

Year IP Saves ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
2015 37.1 6 2.41 2.33 11.57 1.93 1.1
2014 71.1 19 1.89 1.73 11.36 2.02 2.6
2013 62.2 1 4.02 3.41 10.77 3.16 0.6
2012 55.1 0 1.95 1.81 11.87 1.79 2

The table above shows McGee's stats from the last four seasons, and as you can see, he's been a dynamite reliever for Tampa. McGee will immediately become Colorado's new closer and the anchor of a bullpen that finished with a Major League-worst 4.70 ERA in 2015.

But why would a rebuilding team trade one of their best assets, a solid young outfield with power potential who is under team control for four more years, for a closer they don't really need who they control for two fewer years?

It's the exact opposite of what the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres have done this winter, trading young closers Ken Giles and Craig Kimbrel to contending teams in exchange for young prospects. 

It's yet another move Colorado has made in an effort to reshape their 'pen this off-season. Chad Qualls and Jason Motte are also new to the team, and perhaps the Rockies are hoping that the trio of Qualls, Motte and McGee will shorten games to the point they don't need to have a quality starting rotation. And when you look at that projected rotation for 2016, you can bet that bullpen will be called on early and often.

Player Starts IP ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR
Jorge de la Rosa 26 149 4.17 4.19 8.09 3.93 1.7
Jordan Lyles 10 49 5.14 3.79 5.51 3.49 0.9
Tyler Chatwood DNP            
Chad Bettis 20 115 4.23 3.85 7.67 3.29 1.8
Chris Rusin 22 125 5.62 4.79 5.98 2.81 0.8
Jon Gray 9 40.2 5.53 3.63 8.85 3.1 0.8

Yikes. So perhaps the plan is to bash the bejeezus out of the ball, make the games six innings long and hope the new relievers can make the lack of starting pitching a moot point.

Sorry, I don't see it. But the Rockies are still, nearly a quarter of a century into their existence, trying to figure out how to play baseball in the thin air of Denver. 

From a fantasy perspective, Dickerson should still produce in Tampa when healthy. He may not put up quite the same power numbers as he did in Colorado, so expect him to be around 17-20 homers or so in 2016, given he plays about 150 games. ZiPS has him projected to hit .260/.311/.463 in just 393 ABs, with 17 homers, 21 doubles and an fWAR of 1.3. 

As for McGee, he should continue to pile up the strikeouts, but if you are in a league that uses saves as a counting statistic, don't expect to see many of them from him this season. Also, it would be shocking to see him maintain an ERA under 2.50 in that bandbox. 

This is a deal that makes total sense for Tampa and very little sense for Colorado.