Pittsburgh Pirates trade Alex Dickerson, designate Garrett Jones

Garrett Jones was designated for assignment on Monday (Photo Courtesy of Al Behrman)

Garrett Jones was designated for assignment on Monday (Photo Courtesy of Al Behrman)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded prospect Alex Dickerson to the San Diego Padres for Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas. To make room on the 40-man roster for Decker and Mikolas, the Pirates have designated Garrett Jones and Kyle McPherson for assignment.

Decker was a first round draft pick in 2008 and was one of the top 100 prospects in the game in 2010. Last season in Triple-A, he hit for a .286/.381/.443 line. Then the 24-year-old was called up to the majors where he went 4-for-26. Decker is young and a left-handed power hitting  outfielder. The addition of Decker makes the chances of Travis Snider returning look grim.

Mikolas is a right-handed pitcher standing at 6’5″, 215 pounds. In 34 career innings in the majors he has a .344 ERA.  Last season he spent most of the year in Triple-A. There the 24-year-old put up a 3.25 ERA in 61 innings of relief. Mikolas averages 93.1 MPH on his fastball in his brief stint in the majors.  His fastball usually hits 92-95 MPH, but occasionally it can hit 98. His curveball is his dominant pitch that features a 12-to-6 break, which probably will make him a groundball pitcher.

Dickerson was drafted by the Pirates in the third round of the 2011 draft and was about two years away from the majors. In college at Indiana, he was an outfielder who had the potential to carry a big bat. The Pirates moved him to first base, where they have a need to fill, but he only played the position for a year and a half. Matt Curry was on the same team as Dickerson in Altoona and he could only play first, so Dickerson was moved back to the outfield.

With the Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen combo already covering the Pirates outfield and Gregory Polanco just a year or so away, Pittsburgh really didn’t need Dickerson to be an outfielder. His bat would be valuable to the organization, but he was never going to be a starter.

Dickerson was not one of the organization’s highly touted prospects. His chronic back problems and the fact that he didn’t hit for enough power held him back.

Dickerson and Decker are very similar players, but Decker appears to have more power. He may also be a better outfielder, but that is irrelevant since the Pirates outfield is pretty much set for the future.

Mikolas should be the bigger acquisition of the deal.  His numbers aren’t flashy, but he can throw hard an has a nice breaking ball. He has one option left so the possibility of him starting the season in Triple-A is good.  He could make an appearance with the big league team at some point this season.

Garrett Jones was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, but the fact that he got DFA shouldn’t come as a big surprise. He’s been an obvious non-tender candidate since about July.  Jones, who is 32, came off a poor year and was due for a raise in arbitration. He hit .233/.289/.419 with 26 doubles, 15 home runs and 51 RBI last season,compared to 2012 when he hit .274/.317/.516 with 27 home runs and 86 RBI.

Jones has always struggled hitting lefties, but he dominated right-handers quite well. Despite a disappointing 2013 season, Jones should get another chance with another team.

Kyle McPherson had Tommy John surgery over the summer, therefore he would begin the 2014 season on the 60-day disabled list.  The Pirates can try to re-sign him if he clears waivers then try to bring him back under a minor league deal. If all goes as planned, her should be available to pitch in the second half of the season.

McPherson has posted a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 inning pitched in the majors.  He has posted a 3.57 ERA in the minors in 126 games.

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