Corey Dickerson, a 33-year-old, McComb, Mississippi-born outfielder, who signed a one-year/$2.25M contract with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, was in Jackson, MS out golfing with father-in-law when he joined reporters on a Zoom call to discuss the deal he took from the rebooting ballclub in the nation’s capital.
The 10-year MLB veteran spent the 2022 campaign in St. Louis, Missouri, playing 97 games for the Cardinals and putting up a .267/.300/.399 line, 17 doubles, and six home runs in his 297 plate appearances, over which he was worth 0.4 WAR.
The Cards were the outfielder’s seventh big league team, and he finished the ‘22 season with 9+ years of service time in the majors, but he said on Tuesday afternoon he still has plenty to offer and something to prove as he heads into his 10th MLB campaign.
What does he have to prove?
“That I’m a good baseball player,” Dickerson said succinctly. “That I can do more than just one thing. I think I can still hit for power. A lot of people have written me off with that, but nobody asks why, or things like that, like reasons why I switch stances or moved to different approaches over the years. I still think I can hit for power, I can do many things well. I always feed off negative emotion. I’ve always been an underdog, I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder. That’s the way I played. And I feel like I kind of lost that chip the last couple years trying to please ... and mold to people’s needs a little bit, and this year I’m going to try to definitely help my teammates, but really put that chip back on my shoulder and be able to play with the emotion I need to.”
Dickerson has a .281/.324/.481 line, 230 doubles, and 134 career home runs in 1033 games and 3786 PAs in the majors, and he has hit 24 home runs twice (2014 & ‘16), and 27 for his career-high as recently as 2017, but he’s hit just 44 in 417 games played over the last five years (2018-22).
Since he mentioned no one ever asked about switching stances and changing his approach over the years, a reporter, of course, asked him to elaborate on why he did.
“Nobody has looked at my whole career and said, ‘Man, this guy is toe-tap. This guy is leg-kick. This guy is two-strike approach, spread out. He’s been closed off. He’s done this and still had success, but it’s just a mixed bag of success. There’s times where I have my hands over my head, hands low, things like that, and I’m able to do all those things, I’m able to have success with all those things, but what will bring the most success? What will benefit the team more? Things like that is what you kind of you have to evaluate, but I’ve done all those things and being able to just let go and not try to please people, and just go with what’s comfortable and know what’s right for you.”
He decided the Nationals were the right thing for him in 2023, and said he saw in D.C. a big opportunity to show the baseball world he still has something to offer with his eighth team.
Dickerson has struggled to hit lefties in his career, and didn’t get many opportunities to do so with the Cards, but put up solid numbers from the right side, .286/.316/.428, 16 doubles, six home runs in 269 PAs last season.
He’ll likely get time in left field in D.C., and he’ll be part of a young team trying to turn things around after three straight fifth-place finishes for the club.
What role did they tell him he’s going to fill with the ‘23 Nationals?
“I think we’ll figure it out,” he said.
“When you’re a competitor, and you just go out there and play — I’ve done it for a long time, and guys always mess with me about bouncing around and things like that, but I always say there’s a reason I’m still here, and there is a reason why I still have [opportunities], and it’s just because I love to compete. When I get out there and compete it tends to just work out.”
“I want to play the field every single day,” he added, “every opportunity I get, I love that, enjoy that. Continue my daily preparation, trying to get better at that, but whatever the team needs is the role you have to be ready to play. I’m just going to prepare myself the best way possible and try to enjoy the moment.”
He’s had plenty of moments to enjoy in Nationals Park in his career. Dickerson debuted in the Nats’ home in 2013 with the Colorado Rockies who’d selected him in the 3rd Round of the 2010 Draft, and over the years, the veteran has put up a .359/.391/.688 line with three doubles and six home runs in 19 games and 69 career PAs in D.C., so he’s already looking forward to playing in Washington on a regular basis.
What does he like about his new home park?
“I think just the overall feel of it, I enjoy playing there,” Dickerson explained. “I like the more modern ballpark. You see the ball really well there. I don’t know. I just always really enjoyed playing there, and usually when you get something good going, you hit good somewhere, you just get good vibes from it and every time you come back you try to remember those good vibes, those good times, and try to repeat it.”