The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed outfielder Chris Dickerson to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. This, like every other move the Pirates have made this offseason, should be considered nothing more than a depth acquisition. The Bucs already have several outfielders that are higher than Dickerson on the depth chart. Dickerson will likely be behind Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Starling Marte, Travis Snider, Jaff Decker and Gregory Polanco on the Pirates’ outfield depth chart, so he won’t be seeing any plate appearances at the MLB level in 2014.
Dickerson, 31, is a former member of the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. He has a career .262/.339/.406 slash line with a 99 wRC+ in 708 plate appearances. Dickerson doesn’t provide much value at the plate, but he does provide a very good defensive option in the outfield. According to FanGraphs, Dickerson has saved 12.9 runs on defense throughout his career. The value he provides defensively makes up for his below average offense as shown by his career 4.0 fWAR.
While Dickerson clearly isn’t a great all-around player, he can be useful if he is used correctly — as a late inning defensive replacement or a pinch runner (3.9 base running runs above average, according to FanGraphs). Ideally for the Pirates, they won’t need to rely on Dickerson in any situation in 2014 with him being so far down on the pecking order. The great thing for the Pirates is that for once they have a ton of depth and they don’t have a real use for a player like Dickerson. Five years ago he may have been a starter in the Pirates’ outfield.