The Blue Jays have made a trade!
Jays acquire reliever Adam Cimber and OF Corey Dickerson from Miami for Joe Panik and 2019 37th-round RHP Andrew McInvale
Well this sure appears to be a tidy piece of business. On Tuesday morning reports emerged, beginning with Miami-based reporter Craig Mish, that the Blue Jays and Marlins have made a trade. Coming Toronto’s way are sidearming right-handed reliever Adam Cimber and left-handed hitting outfielder Corey Dickerson. Heading to Miami are Joe Panik and minor league right-hander Andrew McInvale (a 37th round pick from 2019).
We’re checking a lot of boxes here folks.
✅ Add an actual, big league quality reliever.
✅ Find a decent lefty bat who can play one of third base or corner outfield.
✅ Remove Charlie Montoyo’s ability to overuse Joe Panik.
So what are the Jays getting and how are they fits? Let’s look a little deeper.
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RHP Adam Cimber
Though Dickerson is the bigger name and the more expensive player, the key to the deal is Cimber. And, presumably, one of the reasons Cimber was available was the Jays’ willingness to take on some significant portion, if not all, of Dickerson’s $8.5 million salary for 2021, as well as the $1 million signing bonus he’s due at the end of November.
Some of Cimber’s numbers don’t jump off the page — for example: his fastball’s 86.9 mph average, or his meagre 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings — but because of his funky delivery, those aren’t necessarily the most meaningful ones to look at. He keeps the ball in the ballpark, having allowed just one home run since the start of 2020, and none this year. In his career he's been quite good against right-handers, holding them to a .254/.300/.352 line. And in the last two seasons he’s been much improved against lefties as well.
That last bit is significant. Cimber was hurt badly by left-handed batters early in his career, and thus was hurt badly when MLB implemented its new three-batter minimum rule starting last season. He has since made some adjustments — particularly to his release point — which has made him more well-rounded, but it’s come at the expense of some of his success against right-handers. Still, this season, in 34.1 innings of work, he sports a 2.88 ERA and a 3.32 FIP. This season, in 34.1 innings of work, he sports a 2.88 ERA and a 3.32 FIP. Right-handers have produced a .269/.329/.333 line against him, while lefties have hit .196/.327/.283.
That will play in just about any bullpen. In the current Blue Jays bullpen? That looks downright fantastic.
Cimber is by no means a perfect reliever. With that funky delivery can come inconsistency. He’s also definitely more a guy you want to see in the sixth or seventh than the eighth or ninth. Statcast's percentile rankings show him in the middle of the pack in terms of hard hit percentage, expected wOBA, and expected ERA. He’s among one of the worst in fastball velocity, whiff rate, chase rate, strikeout rate, and expected batting average. However, he's near elite in terms of average and maximum exit velocity, and firmly elite (96th percentile) in terms of barrel rate. In other words: batters will make contact, they will get their hits, but he's good at limiting walks, and very good at limiting big, big damage.
Personally, I’d rather see a reliever out there giving the Blue Jays’ fielders a chance to make plays than the ones we’ve lately seen walking in runs all over the place. And an option against some of the big right-handed bats of the AL East (Judge, Stanton, Bogaerts) who isn’t likely going to give up game-changing home runs. A very nice upgrade. And he’s also not a rental! Cimber has three years of club control remaining beyond this one.
If you still weren’t sure that Dickerson is not the biggest part of the deal, this should clear that up: he is currently injured, and out indefinitely. Here’s Mike Axisa of CBS Sports on that:
Dickerson, 32, is currently on the injured list with a foot contusion that seems more serious than a regular old contusion. Last week manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Mish, that Dickerson will be in a walking boot for three weeks, then will be reevaluated. Best-case scenario is he's back two weeks from now, though he could be out much longer.
The fact that the Jays don’t immediately need to add Dickerson to their outfield logjam is maybe more of a feature of the deal than a bug. There are definitely trade options among the group of Jays outfielders, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. the most likely to be on the block. But he’s started to come out of his two month slump a bit of late, producing a 112 wRC+ in June. Not having to cut down somebody’s playing time, or make another trade right away, is probably for the best.
Ultimately, Dickerson could be an option to play more regularly, or at least platoon with someone, in left field. However, he could also merely be the ballast that allowed the Blue Jays to acquire the cost-controlled Cimber. Clearly nothing the Jays are sending the other way is of much value, so the deal is at least some form of salary dump.
Assuming Dickerson is eventually in the plans, he does bring a few good qualities. Despite what his reputation may say, he’s probably about an average defender in left field. In 2018 he was +15 runs by DRS and +8.6 runs by UZR, but he was below average in the two years after that before having a mild bounce back so far this season. That’s maybe not an upgrade on what the Blue Jays already have, but it’s certainly not a downgrade.
At the plate, while he’s only been about league average against right-handed pitching over the last two seasons, he did an excellent job of handling right-handers in the earlier part of his career. Though they can do better on the lefty bench bat front, for a Jays team that has lately been giving at-bats to Joe Panik, this is definitely an upgrade as well.
I’m just saying maybe don’t go out and buy yourself a Blue Jays “Dickerson” jersey just yet.
Going the other way: Joe Panik and Andrew McSomething
If you’re a front office that is going to hire a manager based on things other than his ability to squeeze the best out of his in-game management, and who sometimes makes weird decisions with personnel and ends up having trust in guys whose play doesn’t merit that trust, it is imperative that you do everything you can to manager-proof your roster. This move takes the Blue Jays a big step in that direction.
Gone is Joe Panik, an OK player across the board, but clearly not the guy who produced a 106 wRC+ over his first 1,800 plate appearances in the majors. He can do a little bit of everything, but none of it especially well. We were seeing too much lately of a below average defender who was slashing .246/.293/.351. He may not have been the Jays' biggest problem, but his was a spot on the roster that the team needed to upgrade.
The other piece moving here, per my former colleague, Kaitlyn McGrath of the Athletic, is Andrew McInvale, a player who I’ve definitely heard of before and definitely haven’t had to double check the spelling of his name every single time I’ve written it. No disrespect intended to the young right-hander, who despite some problems walking guys has had a nice, high-strikeout season so far as a reliever in Double-A. It's just that 37th round guys aren't usually prospects of consequence.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible that the 24-year-old could one day make an impact for the Marlins. But Nick is absolutely correct here:
Scott Mitchell @ScottyMitchTSNProspect heading to Marlins from #BlueJays is Double-A right-hander Andrew McInvale, per source. He was a 37th round pick in 2019.
The cost in terms of player value here was truly minimal, with the bigger thing being the fact that the Jays used their financial muscle to get a jump on the relief market and add a genuine upgrade in an area of need. They get a solid reliever and a “lottery ticket” in exchange for a couple guys they had no use for and the willingness to spend like bigger market team. It’s a small deal, and probably not a game-changer itself, but it’s hard not to love it for the Blue Jays.
Now keep the bullpen upgrades coming!
Top image: Screengrab via MLB.com