The Rays had a busy Saturday evening as they traded away Jake Odorizzi for a prospect. Along with that move, they acquired 1B/DH C.J. Cron from the Halos for a player to be named later and, to many people’s surprise, designated for assignment OF/DH Corey Dickerson as the corresponding move.
The deal for Cron makes sense for the Angels as the Halos already had Luis Valbuena, Albert Pujols, and Shohei Ohtani in the 1B/DH mix, and as evidenced by the deal, Cron was the odd man out. Cron tore up minor league pitching in the Angels’ system but never found the same stroke in the majors.
In parts of four season as a member of the Angels, Cron slashed .262/.307/.449 and compiled a 2.8 WAR. In a new uniform, Cron may rediscover his stroke that saw him drive in 123 runs as a 22-year-old in the minors. It is a low-risk, high reward move for the Rays and will only cost them $2.3 million in 2018.
The puzzling part of this move was the corresponding move. To make room on the roster for the newly acquired Cron, the Rays announced that they designated 2017 All-Star Corey Dickerson for assignment.
Dickerson slashed .282/.325/.490 last season for the Rays while mashing 64 extra-base hits. Dickerson’s WAR in 2017 alone was .1 less than what Cron has compiled in his whole career. Dickerson struggled in the second half of the season for the Rays as he compiled a measily .690 OPS, but was dominant in the first half as his batting average was well above .300, and he had an OPS of .903. Dickerson should be able to find a job elsewhere as the Rays will likely seek out a trade partner.
The Rays could have had a solid DH platoon with Cron and Dickerson, but the Rays front office must have not seen that as a viable option. The only angle that makes sense for the Rays’ decision to part ways with Dickerson is that they would be off the hook for his $5.95 million salary that he is owed for 2018.
Assuming a team takes his whole contract, the Rays would save $3.65 million from keeping Cron on the roster and finding a trade partner for Dickerson.