ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Colorado’s crowded outfield just wasn’t big enough for Corey Dickerson.
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Dickerson from the Rockies for left-handed reliever Jake McGee in a trade Thursday that also sent a minor leaguer to each team.
The Rays got third baseman Kevin Padlo and Colorado picked up right-hander German Marquez.
In another move, Tampa Bay reached a one-year, $4.75 million deal with free agent first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce.
Colorado had an abundance of lefty-hitting outfielders with the recent signing of Gerardo Parra. In the end, Dickerson — who is not yet eligible for salary arbitration — was deemed expendable over the likes of Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon.
The 26-year-old Dickerson hit .304 last year with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 65 games. He was limited early in the season because of plantar fasciitis and then later due to broken ribs he sustained while diving for a ball.
"It’s always hard to give up somebody that you’ve enjoyed watching grow up in the organization and who’s obviously a very talented hitter," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said in a conference call Thursday night. "You have to give up something to get something. He’s got a bright future if he can stay healthy."
Dickerson joins a team that also has a surplus of outfielders. Tampa Bay’s roster includes Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr. and Brandon Guyer. Barring some sort of move, someone will be headed to the role of designated hitter.
"It’s a crowded lineup we have … but you can never predict how the season will unfold," Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said.
Silverman said Tampa Bay not only addressed a need to strengthen a sputtering offence but figures to enter spring training with more depth than usual among position players.
Dickerson played mostly left field while with Colorado, a spot where Jennings has been playing. Jennings has been slowed by injuries past two seasons. Silverman called him "an established major league hitter" who potentially fill a hole in the middle of the batting order
McGee becomes another piece as the Rockies try to revamp their bullpen. He turned in his best season two years ago when he went 5-2, with a 1.89 ERA and 19 saves in 73 appearances. He started last season on disabled list after undergoing off-season elbow surgery. He went 1-2, 2.41 ERA and six saves in 39 appearances in 2015.
The 29-year-old agreed this month to a $4.8 million, one-year contract.
"The departure of Jake leaves a big hole. It will be hard to fill," Silverman said. "It’s going to require a couple of guys stepping up … for us to have the type of lock-down bullpen it’s going to take to make the playoffs."
Colorado already brought in former closers to two-year contracts, guaranteeing Jason Motte $10 million and Chad Qualls $6 million. Right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino is expected back sometime around the All-Star break after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.
"There’s an intent here to continue to bombard this organization with impactful pitching," Bridich explained. "This is simply another example of that.
"Our goal is to win more games, as many as we can possibly win and to do that in part by adding high impact pitching to who we are."
The 19-year-old Padlo spent his first full pro season in Class A. He was a midseason and post-season All-Star in the Northwest League.
The 20-year-old Marquez went 7-13 with a 3.56 ERA at Class A Charlotte.
Colorado designated pitcher Christian Friedrich for assignment. The 28-year-old lefty was 0-4 with a 5.25 ERA in a team-high 68 relief appearances last season.
The 32-year-old Pearce hit .218 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs for Baltimore last season. He can earn $1.25 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $125,000 each for 400 and 425, and $250,000 apiece for 500, 525, 550 and 575. He also would get a $250,000 assignment bonus if traded.