Phillies

Phillies free-agent target: Corey Dickerson

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Phillies free-agent target: Corey Dickerson

Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Today, we check in on outfielder Corey Dickerson, who made a positive impact in a brief stay with the Phillies in 2019.

The vitals

The Phillies were criticized for not doing enough to upgrade their pitching at last summer’s trade deadline, but they did make a difference-making lineup acquisition when they acquired Dickerson in a cash deal from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dickerson played in 34 games for the Phillies and belted eight homers and drove in 34 runs. He suffered a broken foot in September and the Phillies really missed his bat down the stretch.

The lefty-swinging Dickerson turns 31 in May. He is one of those proverbial “professional hitters.”  He sports a career batting average of .286 and an OPS of .832. He’s made an All-Star team, won a Gold Glove and hit .300 three times.

Why he fits

Dickerson is a high-character, team-first guy who was well liked and much respected in the Phillies’ clubhouse last season. He can hit — he crushes right-handed pitching — and his bat would be a nice addition to the roster.

Why he doesn’t fit

Dickerson proved valuable in left field for the Phillies in the second half of 2019. However, he lacks positional versatility and is limited to just the corner outfield spots. With left fielder Andrew McCutchen set to return from knee surgery and Bryce Harper locked in in right field, there really isn’t a spot for Dickerson to get regular reps. It is not clear what the Phillies will do in center field in 2020. They have a number of options. If one of them includes giving McCutchen some time there they could more seriously consider a reunion with Dickerson, but that seems to be a decision that will come down the road, after other options have been exhausted, and Dickerson could be elsewhere by then.

Jay Bruce's return further complicates a potential reunion with Dickerson. The Phillies aren’t paying Bruce much — they took on just $2.75 million of his remaining $21 million last season — and he’s also a lefty bat who plays only the corners.

The price tag

Dickerson signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Pirates last year. The first-time free agent could be looking at a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $15 million.

Scout’s take

“After Tampa Bay DFA’d him (in February 2018), he went to Pittsburgh and made some good adjustments, especially on getting to high fastballs, and that’s made him a more well-rounded hitter. He really produced in a short time in Philly, but with McCutchen and Harper there, where’s he going to play? He’s more than a bench bat. He’ll be somewhere.”

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No jitters for Bryce Harper, just an RBI, a stolen base and a little 'glam'

No jitters for Bryce Harper, just an RBI, a stolen base and a little 'glam'

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Everybody's stomach is a little different.

So while Jake Arrieta had a few butterflies before his first start of the spring Tuesday, Bryce Harper's pulse barely quickened.

"Kind of the opposite," Harper said, comparing the feel of his spring debut to Arrieta's. "Spring training is kind of spring training. I don't want to get too high or anything like that. I just want to get out there, stay healthy and compete. When I get to opening day, there's your jitters."

Harper played five innings in right field. He came to the plate three times. He drove home a run with a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat and later walked and struck out. He also stole a base.

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, Harper was still a free agent, mulling offers from the Phillies, Giants and Dodgers. He chose the Phillies on the final day of February and camp exploded with excitement. Back in Philadelphia, the team sold 180,000 tickets within 48 hours of Harper's agreement with the team.

This year, things are a lot different for Harper. He has become a dad. And his hair is a lot longer.

"I'm going to keep it going," he said. "Yeah, keep it flowing. Why not? We'll see what happens."

Harper, of course, isn't the only one in camp with a new look. His pal, the Phanatic, unveiled his on Sunday.

"Hey, man, everybody needs a glam-up sometimes, you know?" Harper said. "Why not? I've got long hair right now. I'm always changing."

The general atmosphere around camp is also different than it was a year ago. Though there's a real sense of faith that the Phillies will improve under new manager Joe Girardi, there's none of the euphoric buzz that accompanied Harper's signing. The attendance for Tuesday's game against Toronto in Clearwater was just 4,004. It was a split-squad game for both teams.

Harper is OK with a calmer spring.

"It's definitely different coming into camp," he said. "It's good knowing I'll be here the next 12 years, a lot more calm, not as crazy, not as many cameras. I'll enjoy that and just get ready for the season."

Harper's spring goal:

"Just be healthy," he said. "Take good routes in the outfield, throw the ball well out there, have good at-bats."

Haseley in protocol

Centerfielder Adam Haseley left the game in Clearwater after hitting his face hard on the ground while attempting a diving catch. Haseley suffered a cut on his forehead, caused by his sunglasses. He was seen walking and talking in the clubhouse after the game but was unavailable for comment to reporters because he had been placed in concussion protocol. His condition will be updated on Wednesday.

The games

Arrieta gave up a single, a walk and a three-run homer in the first inning, but he enjoyed a quick second inning. He admitted to some nerves in the first inning but settled in after that. At this point of camp, all that matters with a starting pitcher is health and Arrieta feels good after having his elbow surgically cleaned out late last season.

The Phillies lost the Clearwater game, 13-6, despite a grand slam from minor-leaguer Jhailyn Ortiz. The Phillies signed Ortiz for $4 million as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. He hit just .200 at Single A Clearwater last season but had 19 homers and 65 RBIs in 430 at-bats.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto gunned down a runner trying to steal second base from his knees.

In Bradenton, the Phils beat the Pirates, 6-2. Lefties Ranger Suarez and Damon Jones both pitched two scoreless innings. 

The victories left the Phillies at 3-1-1 in exhibition play.

Zach Eflin starts Wednesday against the Twins in Fort Myers.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Can Roman Quinn change complexion of Phillies' lineup?

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Phillies Talk podcast: Can Roman Quinn change complexion of Phillies' lineup?

Joe Girardi is already impressed by Roman Quinn, who could significantly alter the Phillies' lineup if he can win the CF job. Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman discussed on Tuesday's Phillies Talk podcast.

• How Roman Quinn could change the complexion of the lineup.

• Can Andrew McCutchen be an effective leadoff man if the knee forces him to go station to station?

• How much a fast runner can mess with a pitcher's head.

• Phillies pitchers making clear (without saying it) what they thought of Chris Young and Gabe Kapler.

• Whose side are you on with the Phanatic lawsuit?

• Expectations for Scott Kingery in Year 3.

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