Thursday’s MLB: Rays deal Dickerson to Pirates

Associated Press

Port Charlotte, Fla. – Tampa Bay traded All-Star designated hitter Corey Dickerson to Pittsburgh on Thursday in exchange for relief pitcher Daniel Hudson, minor league infielder Tristan Gray and cash.

The 28-year-old Dickerson was designated for assignment last Saturday. He was the AL’s starting DH in last summer’s All-Star game, but struggled at the plate the second half of the season. The trade lets the Rays shed Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary.

Hudson is a 30-year-old right-hander who went 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA in a career-high 71 appearances in 2017. He’s 37-30 with a 3.98 career ERA over eight seasons with the Pirates, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hudson has 59 career starts, but primarily as a reliever since returning from a second Tommy John surgery in 2015.

Dickerson batted .282 with 27 home runs and 62 RBIs last season. He was obtained from the Colorado Rockies in January 2016 and hit .265 with 51 homers and 132 RBIs over the past two years.

Gray was a 13th-round pick of the Pirates in 2017. He spent his first pro season with Short-A West Virginia in the New York-Penn League, batting .269 with seven homers and 37 RBIs in 53 games.

Pirates owner Bob Nutting said Thursday that the team won’t stray from its roster strategy even if some of its moves are unpopular with fans. Pittsburgh traded away two of its top players, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and pitcher Gerrit Cole, in exchange for six younger players, including pitcher Joe Musgrove and third baseman Colin Moran, who will be on the opening day roster.

The turnover comes after the Pirates missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

“We’ve made a clear directional shift this offseason,” Nutting said. “No question, this team is going to be stronger in 2019 and ‘20 than it would have been without those trades.”

Nutting insists the Pirates are not in a rebuilding mode.

“We are not at a point where we need to punt a season to harvest some draft picks,” Nutting said. “I think that’s the wrong approach for the Pirates. Will we need to make some very challenging trades to harvest talent? Yes. Will they be enthusiastically welcomed? No. We will continue to do what we think is right to infuse talent into this organization everywhere we can.”

Backlash to the team’s moves have come from fans and the clubhouse.

Believing the team is not committed to winning, second baseman Josh Harrison already has requested a trade. Third baseman David Freese has said he has not felt much competitive fire in the clubhouse the past two seasons.

Both players met privately with Nutting.

“I think some of the comments were correct and fair,” Nutting said. “I think they’re helping to build what we need to do, which is put the most important things up front to make sure we do have that winning culture.”

Nutting said he’s done his part this week by being visible on the fields at Pirate City during spring training workouts, and said the players must do more, too.

“Any great culture primarily is coming from the bottom up,” Nutting said.

The Pirates shed about $20 million in salaries by trading McCutchen and Cole. Their $80 million payroll will again be among the lowest in the majors this season.

The Pirates are the only team that did not sign a free agent to a major league deal this past offseason.

“I think that (adding a high-priced free agent) has been proven, time and again, not to be the way to drive a winning culture and a winning team,” Nutting said. “Will we continue to look to make the team better? Yes. Will we be opportunistic? Absolutely. But can we veer from the path? I think that’s when a directionless team really is a doomed team.”

Rays prospect sidelined

Rays prospect Brent Honeywell left the mound during a live batting practice session with what the team diagnosed as a right forearm strain.

The 22-year-old right-hander got hurt while facing major league batters for the first time this spring.