The Nationals are finalizing a one-year deal with veteran Corey Dickerson, a source familiar with the negotiations confirmed, addressing another pressing need in left field.
The deal with Dickerson, which includes a $2.25 million salary plus incentives, is contingent upon the 33-year-old passing a physical, the source said.
Once it’s finalized, the Nationals will have some more clarity about the makeup of a 2023 lineup that will look quite different from the one they fielded last season. If Dickerson is the primary left fielder, Joey Meneses would likely serve as the primary designated hitter, with the newly signed Dominic Smith at first base. Jeimer Candelario, another new addition this winter, is expected to start at third base.
Even if Dickerson is the Nats’ primary left fielder, he probably won’t play every day, given his longstanding struggles against left-handed pitching. Over his career, the lefty-hitting outfielder owns a .287/.331/.505 offensive slash line against right-handers, compared to .259/.299/.394 against left-handers. The disparity was even greater last season in St. Louis, where Dickerson took only 28 plate appearances vs. lefties and went 2-for-26.
An All-Star with the Rays in 2017 and a Gold Glove Award winner with the Pirates in 2018, Dickerson averaged 30 doubles and 18 homers during his first six full years in the majors. He’s been less productive the last three years, though he still maintained a league-average 100 OPS-plus in 2022 with the Cardinals, batting .267/.300/.399 with 17 doubles and six homers in 297 plate appearances.
Dickerson’s defensive metrics also have dropped off as he has reached his 30s, though he still ranked 15th out of 37 left fielders with at least 400 innings played last season, ahead of the two men who most played there for the Nats: Lane Thomas and Yadiel Hernandez.
All told, Dickerson owns a .281 batting average, .324 on-base percentage, .481 slugging percentage, 230 doubles, 134 homers, 452 RBIs and an .805 OPS in 10 big league seasons spent with the Rockies, Rays, Pirates, Phillies, Marlins, Blue Jays and Cardinals.
News of the Nationals having a deal with Dickerson was first reported by The Nats Report. Contract terms were first reported by MLB.com.
UPDATE: The deal for Dickerson became official today after the outfielder passed his physical and the Nationals cleared a spot on their 40-man roster for him. The corresponding transaction to make that happen was something of a surprise: reliever Andres Machado was designated for assignment.
Machado had seemingly become an important part of the Nats bullpen, finishing the 2022 season with a 3.34 ERA and 1.365 WHIP over 59 1/3 innings. Most notably, he closed out his year with 17 consecutive scoreless appearances.
The 29-year-old right-hander, though, was out of options, so he would've needed to make the Opening Day roster or be exposed to waivers at the end of spring training. The Nationals may be hoping he'll go unclaimed now and remain in the organization. Even so, the club elected to designate Machado over the likes of Cory Abbott or Jordan Weems, who had less big league success in 2022.
The Nationals made another roster move today, acquiring right-hander Cristian Jimenez from the Twins for right-hander A.J. Alexy. Alexy, who was claimed off waivers from the Rangers earlier this winter, was designated for assignment by the Nats last week. Jimenez, 18, has spent the last two seasons pitching at the Twins' Dominican academy, posting a 3.63 ERA and 1.308 WHIP with 61 strikeouts across 52 innings, facing fellow young Latin American prospects.
The Nationals also announced the addition of an exhibition game against the Yankees in Washington on March 28. The game, scheduled to begin at 12:05 p.m. at Nationals Park, will bridge the gap between the club's Grapefruit League finale two days earlier and its Opening Day game against the Braves two days later.